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PLoS One. 2007 Mar 28;2(3):e337.

Probabilistic protein function prediction from heterogeneous genome-wide data.

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  • 1Bioinformatics Program, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. nariai@bu.edu


Dramatic improvements in high throughput sequencing technologies have led to a staggering growth in the number of predicted genes. However, a large fraction of these newly discovered genes do not have a functional assignment. Fortunately, a variety of novel high-throughput genome-wide functional screening technologies provide important clues that shed light on gene function. The integration of heterogeneous data to predict protein function has been shown to improve the accuracy of automated gene annotation systems. In this paper, we propose and evaluate a probabilistic approach for protein function prediction that integrates protein-protein interaction (PPI) data, gene expression data, protein motif information, mutant phenotype data, and protein localization data. First, functional linkage graphs are constructed from PPI data and gene expression data, in which an edge between nodes (proteins) represents evidence for functional similarity. The assumption here is that graph neighbors are more likely to share protein function, compared to proteins that are not neighbors. The functional linkage graph model is then used in concert with protein domain, mutant phenotype and protein localization data to produce a functional prediction. Our method is applied to the functional prediction of Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes, using Gene Ontology (GO) terms as the basis of our annotation. In a cross validation study we show that the integrated model increases recall by 18%, compared to using PPI data alone at the 50% precision. We also show that the integrated predictor is significantly better than each individual predictor. However, the observed improvement vs. PPI depends on both the new source of data and the functional category to be predicted. Surprisingly, in some contexts integration hurts overall prediction accuracy. Lastly, we provide a comprehensive assignment of putative GO terms to 463 proteins that currently have no assigned function.

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