Recognition models to predict DNA-binding specificities of homeodomain proteins

Ryan G. Christensen, Metewo Selase Enuameh, Marcus B. Noyes, Michael H. Brodsky, Scot A. Wolfe, Gary D. Stormo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Motivation: Recognition models for protein-DNA interactions, which allow the prediction of specificity for a DNA-binding domain based only on its sequence or the alteration of specificity through rational design, have long been a goal of computational biology. There has been some progress in constructing useful models, especially for C2H2 zinc finger proteins, but it remains a challenging problem with ample room for improvement. For most families of transcription factors the best available methods utilize k-nearest neighbor (KNN) algorithms to make specificity predictions based on the average of the specificities of the k most similar proteins with defined specificities. Homeodomain (HD) proteins are the second most abundant family of transcription factors, after zinc fingers, in most metazoan genomes, and as a consequence an effective recognition model for this family would facilitate predictive models of many transcriptional regulatory networks within these genomes. Results: Using extensive experimental data, we have tested several machine learning approaches and find that both support vector machines and random forests (RFs) can produce recognition models for HD proteins that are significant improvements over KNN-based methods. Cross-validation analyses show that the resulting models are capable of predicting specificities with high accuracy. We have produced a web-based prediction tool, PreMoTF (Predicted Motifs for Transcription Factors) (, for predicting position frequency matrices from protein sequence using a RF-based model.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbts202
Pages (from-to)i84-i89
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Recognition models to predict DNA-binding specificities of homeodomain proteins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this