TMbed: transmembrane proteins predicted through language model embeddings.

TitleTMbed: transmembrane proteins predicted through language model embeddings.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBernhofer, M, Rost, B
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Date Published2022 Aug 08
KeywordsDatabases, Protein, Language, Membrane Proteins, Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical

BACKGROUND: Despite the immense importance of transmembrane proteins (TMP) for molecular biology and medicine, experimental 3D structures for TMPs remain about 4-5 times underrepresented compared to non-TMPs. Today's top methods such as AlphaFold2 accurately predict 3D structures for many TMPs, but annotating transmembrane regions remains a limiting step for proteome-wide predictions.

RESULTS: Here, we present TMbed, a novel method inputting embeddings from protein Language Models (pLMs, here ProtT5), to predict for each residue one of four classes: transmembrane helix (TMH), transmembrane strand (TMB), signal peptide, or other. TMbed completes predictions for entire proteomes within hours on a single consumer-grade desktop machine at performance levels similar or better than methods, which are using evolutionary information from multiple sequence alignments (MSAs) of protein families. On the per-protein level, TMbed correctly identified 94 ± 8% of the beta barrel TMPs (53 of 57) and 98 ± 1% of the alpha helical TMPs (557 of 571) in a non-redundant data set, at false positive rates well below 1% (erred on 30 of 5654 non-membrane proteins). On the per-segment level, TMbed correctly placed, on average, 9 of 10 transmembrane segments within five residues of the experimental observation. Our method can handle sequences of up to 4200 residues on standard graphics cards used in desktop PCs (e.g., NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060).

CONCLUSIONS: Based on embeddings from pLMs and two novel filters (Gaussian and Viterbi), TMbed predicts alpha helical and beta barrel TMPs at least as accurately as any other method but at lower false positive rates. Given the few false positives and its outstanding speed, TMbed might be ideal to sieve through millions of 3D structures soon to be predicted, e.g., by AlphaFold2.

Alternate JournalBMC Bioinformatics
PubMed ID35941534
PubMed Central IDPMC9358067