Domain size distributions can predict domain boundaries

S. J. Wheelan, A. Marchler-Bauer, S. H. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Motivation: The sizes of protein domains observed in the 3D-structure database follow a surprisingly narrow distribution. Structural domains are furthermore formed from a single-chain continuous segment in over 80% of instances. These observations imply that some choices of domain boundaries on an otherwise uncharacterized sequence are more likely than others, based solely on the size and segment number of predicted domains. This property might be used to guess the locations of protein domain boundaries. Results: To test this possibility we enumerate putative domain boundaries and calculate their relative likelihood under a probability model that considers only the size and segment number of predicted domains. We ask, in a cross-validated test using sequences with known 3D structure, whether the most likely guesses agree with the observed domain structure. We find that domain boundary predictions are surprisingly successful for sequences up to 400 residues long and that guessing domain boundaries in this way can improve the sensitivity of threading analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-618
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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