PredAlgo: a new subcellular localization prediction tool dedicated to green algae

Mol Biol Evol. 2012 Dec;29(12):3625-39. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss178. Epub 2012 Jul 23.


The unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a prime model for deciphering processes occurring in the intracellular compartments of the photosynthetic cell. Organelle-specific proteomic studies have started to delineate its various subproteomes, but sequence-based prediction software is necessary to assign proteins subcellular localizations at whole genome scale. Unfortunately, existing tools are oriented toward land plants and tend to mispredict the localization of nuclear-encoded algal proteins, predicting many chloroplast proteins as mitochondrion targeted. We thus developed a new tool called PredAlgo that predicts intracellular localization of those proteins to one of three intracellular compartments in green algae: the mitochondrion, the chloroplast, and the secretory pathway. At its core, a neural network, trained using carefully curated sets of C. reinhardtii proteins, divides the N-terminal sequence into overlapping 19-residue windows and scores the probability that they belong to a cleavable targeting sequence for one of the aforementioned organelles. A targeting prediction is then deduced for the protein, and a likely cleavage site is predicted based on the shape of the scoring function along the N-terminal sequence. When assessed on an independent benchmarking set of C. reinhardtii sequences, PredAlgo showed a highly improved discrimination capacity between chloroplast- and mitochondrion-localized proteins. Its predictions matched well the results of chloroplast proteomics studies. When tested on other green algae, it gave good results with Chlorophyceae and Trebouxiophyceae but tended to underpredict mitochondrial proteins in Prasinophyceae. Approximately 18% of the nuclear-encoded C. reinhardtii proteome was predicted to be targeted to the chloroplast and 15% to the mitochondrion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / genetics
  • Algal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics*
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Computational Biology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Secretory Pathway / genetics*
  • Software*


  • Algal Proteins