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Bioinformatics. 2018 May 1;34(9):1481-1487. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btx823.

Protein classification using modified n-grams and skip-grams.

Author information

Institute of Biomedical Studies.
Department of Computer Science.
Department of Biology, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798, USA.



Classification by supervised machine learning greatly facilitates the annotation of protein characteristics from their primary sequence. However, the feature generation step in this process requires detailed knowledge of attributes used to classify the proteins. Lack of this knowledge risks the selection of irrelevant features, resulting in a faulty model. In this study, we introduce a supervised protein classification method with a novel means of automating the work-intensive feature generation step via a Natural Language Processing (NLP)-dependent model, using a modified combination of n-grams and skip-grams (m-NGSG).


A meta-comparison of cross-validation accuracy with twelve training datasets from nine different published studies demonstrates a consistent increase in accuracy of m-NGSG when compared to contemporary classification and feature generation models. We expect this model to accelerate the classification of proteins from primary sequence data and increase the accessibility of protein characteristic prediction to a broader range of scientists.

Availability and implementation:

m-NGSG is freely available at Bitbucket: A web server is available at


Supplementary information:

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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