Combined prediction of Tat and Sec signal peptides with hidden Markov models
Motivation: Computational prediction of signal peptides is of great importance in computational biology. In addition to the general secretory pathway ( Sec), Bacteria, Archaea and chloroplasts possess another major pathway that utilizes the Twin-Arginine translocase ( Tat), which recognizes longer and less hydrophobic signal peptides carrying a distinctive pattern of two consecutive Arginines (RR) in the n-region. A major functional differentiation between the Sec and Tat export pathways lies in the fact that the former translocates secreted proteins unfolded through a protein-conducting channel, whereas the latter translocates completely folded proteins using an unknown mechanism. The purpose of this work is to develop a novel method for predicting and discriminating Sec from Tat signal peptides at better accuracy. Results: We report the development of a novel method, PRED-TAT, which is capable of discriminating Sec from Tat signal peptides and predicting their cleavage sites. The method is based on Hidden Markov Models and possesses a modular architecture suitable for both Sec and Tat signal peptides. On an independent test set of experimentally verified Tat signal peptides, PRED-TAT clearly outperforms the previously proposed methods TatP and TATFIND, whereas, when evaluated as a Sec signal peptide predictor compares favorably to top-scoring predictors such as SignalP and Phobius. The method is freely available for academic users at http://www.compgen.org/tools/PRED-TAT/.