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BMC Bioinformatics. 2006 Jun 21;7:312.

Prediction of catalytic residues using Support Vector Machine with selected protein sequence and structural properties.

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Protein Information Resource, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA.



The number of protein sequences deriving from genome sequencing projects is outpacing our knowledge about the function of these proteins. With the gap between experimentally characterized and uncharacterized proteins continuing to widen, it is necessary to develop new computational methods and tools for functional prediction. Knowledge of catalytic sites provides a valuable insight into protein function. Although many computational methods have been developed to predict catalytic residues and active sites, their accuracy remains low, with a significant number of false positives. In this paper, we present a novel method for the prediction of catalytic sites, using a carefully selected, supervised machine learning algorithm coupled with an optimal discriminative set of protein sequence conservation and structural properties.


To determine the best machine learning algorithm, 26 classifiers in the WEKA software package were compared using a benchmarking dataset of 79 enzymes with 254 catalytic residues in a 10-fold cross-validation analysis. Each residue of the dataset was represented by a set of 24 residue properties previously shown to be of functional relevance, as well as a label {+1/-1} to indicate catalytic/non-catalytic residue. The best-performing algorithm was the Sequential Minimal Optimization (SMO) algorithm, which is a Support Vector Machine (SVM). The Wrapper Subset Selection algorithm further selected seven of the 24 attributes as an optimal subset of residue properties, with sequence conservation, catalytic propensities of amino acids, and relative position on protein surface being the most important features.


The SMO algorithm with 7 selected attributes correctly predicted 228 of the 254 catalytic residues, with an overall predictive accuracy of more than 86%. Missing only 10.2% of the catalytic residues, the method captures the fundamental features of catalytic residues and can be used as a "catalytic residue filter" to facilitate experimental identification of catalytic residues for proteins with known structure but unknown function.

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