Composition-modified matrices improve identification of homologs of Saccharomyces cerevisiae low-complexity glycoproteins

Juan E. Coronado, Oliver Attie, Susan L. Epstein, Wei Gang Qiu, Peter N. Lipke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Yeast glycoproteins are representative of low-complexity sequences, those sequences rich in a few types of amino acids. Low-complexity protein sequences comprise more than 10% of the proteome but are poorly aligned by existing methods. Under default conditions, BLAST and FASTA use the scoring matrix BLOSUM62, which is optimized for sequences with diverse amino acid compositions. Because low-complexity sequences are rich in a few amino acids, these tools tend to align the most common residues in nonhomologous positions, thereby generating anomalously high scores, deviations from the expected extreme value distribution, and small e values. This anomalous scoring prevents BLOSUM62-based BLAST and FASTA from identifying correct homologs for proteins with low-complexity sequences, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae wall proteins. We have devised and empirically tested scoring matrices that compensate for the overrepresentation of some amino acids in any query sequence in different ways. These matrices were tested for sensitivity in finding true homologs, discrimination against nonhomologous and random sequences, conformance to the extreme value distribution, and accuracy of e values. Of the tested matrices, the two best matrices (called E and gtQ) gave reliable alignments in BLAST and FASTA searches, identified a consistent set of paralogs of the yeast cell wall test set proteins, and improved the consistency of secondary structure predictions for cell wall proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-637
Number of pages10
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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