The Detection and Classification of Membrane-Spanning Proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1985 May 28;815(3):468-76. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(85)90375-x.


Discriminant analysis can be used to precisely classify membrane proteins as integral or peripheral and to estimate the odds that the classification is correct. Specifically, using 102 membrane proteins from the National Biomedical Research Foundation (NBRF) database we find that discrimination between integral and peripheral membrane proteins can be achieved with 99% reliability. Hydrophobic segments of integral membrane proteins can also be distinguished from interior segments of globular soluble proteins with better than 95% reliability. We also propose a procedure for determining boundaries of membrane-spanning segments and apply it to several integral membrane proteins. For the limited data available (such as on transplantation antigens), the residues at the boundaries of a membrane-spanning segment are predictable to within the error inherent in the concept of boundary. As a specific indication of resolution, seven membrane-spanning segments of bacteriorhodopsin are resolved with no information other than sequence, and the predicted boundary residues agree with the experimental data on proteolytic cleavage sites. Several definitive but yet to be tested predictions are also made, and the relation to other predictive methods is briefly discussed. A computer program in FORTRAN for prediction of membrane-spanning segments is available from the authors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Information Systems
  • Mathematics
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oncogenes
  • Protein Conformation
  • Software
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Membrane Proteins