Homology Induction: the use of machine learning to improve sequence similarity searches

Andreas Karwath, Ross Donald King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The inference of homology between proteins is a key problem in molecular biology The current best approaches only identify ~50% of homologies (with a false positive rate set at 1/ 1000). Results: We present Homology Induction (HI), a new approach to inferring homology. HI uses machine learning to bootstrap from standard sequence similarity search methods. First a standard method is run, then HI learns rules which are true for sequences of high similarity to the target(assumed homologues) and not true for general sequences, these rules are then used to discriminate sequences in the twilight zone. To learn the rules HI describes the sequences in a novel way based on a bioinformatic knowledge base, and the machine learning method of inductive logic programming. To evaluate HI we used the PDB40D benchmark which lists sequences of known homology but low sequence similarity. We compared the HI methodoly with PSI-BLAST alone and found HI performed significantly better. In addition, Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that these improvements were robust for all reasonable error costs. The predictive homology rules learnt by HI by can be interpreted biologically to provide insight into conserved features of homologous protein families. Conclusions: HI is a new technique for the detection of remote protein homolgy – a central bioinformatic problem. HI with PSI-BLAST is shown to outperform PSI-BLAST for all error costs. It is expect that similar improvements would be obtained using HI with any sequence similarity method.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2002


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