MoRFpred, a computational tool for sequence-based prediction and characterization of short disorder-to-order transitioning binding regions in proteins

Fatemeh Miri Disfani, Wei Lun Hsu, Marcin J. Mizianty, Christopher J. Oldfield, Bin Xue, A. Keith Dunker, Vladimir N. Uversky, Lukasz Kurgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

189 Scopus citations


Motivation: Molecular recognition features (MoRFs) are short binding regions located within longer intrinsically disordered regions that bind to protein partners via disorder-to-order transitions. MoRFs are implicated in important processes including signaling and regulation. However, only a limited number of experimentally validated MoRFs is known, which motivates development of computational methods that predict MoRFs from protein chains. Results: We introduce a new MoRF predictor, MoRFpred, which identifies all MoRF types (α, β, coil and complex). We develop a comprehensive dataset of annotated MoRFs to build and empirically compare our method. MoRFpred utilizes a novel design in which annotations generated by sequence alignment are fused with predictions generated by a Support Vector Machine (SVM), which uses a custom designed set of sequence-derived features. The features provide information about evolutionary profiles, selected physiochemical properties of amino acids, and predicted disorder, solvent accessibility and B-factors. Empirical evaluation on several datasets shows that MoRFpred outperforms related methods: α-MoRF-Pred that predicts α-MoRFs and ANCHOR which finds disordered regions that become ordered when bound to a globular partner. We show that our predicted (new) MoRF regions have non-random sequence similarity with native MoRFs. We use this observation along with the fact that predictions with higher probability are more accurate to identify putative MoRF regions. We also identify a few sequence-derived hallmarks of MoRFs. They are characterized by dips in the disorder predictions and higher hydrophobicity and stability when compared to adjacent (in the chain) residues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbts209
Pages (from-to)i75-i83
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics

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