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J Mol Graph Model. 2005 Jun;23(6):481-9.

Predictive Bayesian neural network models of MHC class II peptide binding.

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SciMetrics, Harrow Enterprises Ltd., Vic., Australia.


We used Bayesian regularized neural networks to model data on the MHC class II-binding affinity of peptides. Training data consisted of sequences and binding data for nonamer (nine amino acid) peptides. Independent test data consisted of sequences and binding data for peptides of length </=25. We assumed that MHC class II-binding activity of peptides depends only on the highest ranked embedded nonamer and that reverse sequences of active nonamers are inactive. We also internally validated the models by using 30% of the training data in an internal test set. We obtained robust models, with near identical statistics for multiple training runs. We determined how predictive our models were using statistical tests and area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) graphs (A(ROC)). Most models gave training A(ROC) values close to 1.0 and test set A(ROC) values >0.8. We also used both amino acid indicator variables (bin20) and property-based descriptors to generate models for MHC class II-binding of peptides. The property-based descriptors were more parsimonious than the indicator variable descriptors, making them applicable to larger peptides, and their design makes them able to generalize to unknown peptides outside of the training space. None of the external test data sets contained any of the nonamer sequences in the training sets. Consequently, the models attempted to predict the activity of truly unknown peptides not encountered in the training sets. Our models were well able to tackle the difficult problem of correctly predicting the MHC class II-binding activities of a majority of the test set peptides. Exceptions to the assumption that nonamer motif activities were invariant to the peptide in which they were embedded, together with the limited coverage of the test data, and the fuzziness of the classification procedure, are likely explanations for some misclassifications.

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