Prediction of transmembrane segments in proteins utilising multiple sequence alignments

J Mol Biol. 1994 Mar 25;237(2):182-92. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1994.1220.


A method for prediction of transmembrane segments from multiply aligned amino acid sequences is presented. For the calculations, two sets of propensity values were used: one for the middle, hydrophobic portion and one for the terminal regions of the transmembrane sequence spans. Average propensity values were calculated for each position along the alignment, with the contribution from each sequence weighted according to its dissimilarity relative to the other aligned sequences. Eight-residue segments were considered as potential cores of transmembrane segments and elongated if their middle propensity values were above a given threshold. End propensity values were also considered as stop signals. Only helices with length of 15 to 29 residues were allowed and corrections for strictly conserved charged residues were also made. The method is shown to be more successful than predictions based upon single sequences alone. In the test set of 28 families with 126 transmembrane segments, only five spans were not predicted or constituted false positives. The method is applied to sequence families for which data on transmembrane segments do not exist or are sparse or contradictory included voltage-gated potassium-channels, cytochrome c oxidases, NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase, beta-glucosides-specific phosphotransferase enzyme and major surface antigen of hepatitis B virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / chemistry
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Alignment*


  • Amino Acids
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Electron Transport Complex IV