SETH predicts nuances of residue disorder from protein embeddings.

TitleSETH predicts nuances of residue disorder from protein embeddings.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsIlzhöfer, D, Heinzinger, M, Rost, B
JournalFront Bioinform
Date Published2022

Predictions for millions of protein three-dimensional structures are only a few clicks away since the release of results for UniProt. However, many proteins have so-called intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) that do not adopt unique structures in isolation. These IDRs are associated with several diseases, including Alzheimer's Disease. We showed that three recent disorder measures of predictions (pLDDT, "experimentally resolved" prediction and "relative solvent accessibility") correlated to some extent with IDRs. However, expert methods predict IDRs more reliably by combining complex machine learning models with expert-crafted input features and evolutionary information from multiple sequence alignments (MSAs). MSAs are not always available, especially for IDRs, and are computationally expensive to generate, limiting the scalability of the associated tools. Here, we present the novel method SETH that predicts residue disorder from embeddings generated by the protein Language Model ProtT5, which explicitly only uses single sequences as input. Thereby, our method, relying on a relatively shallow convolutional neural network, outperformed much more complex solutions while being much faster, allowing to create predictions for the human proteome in about 1 hour on a consumer-grade PC with one NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060. Trained on a continuous disorder scale (CheZOD scores), our method captured subtle variations in disorder, thereby providing important information beyond the binary classification of most methods. High performance paired with speed revealed that SETH's nuanced disorder predictions for entire proteomes capture aspects of the evolution of organisms. Additionally, SETH could also be used to filter out regions or proteins with probable low-quality 3D structures to prioritize running the compute-intensive predictions for large data sets. SETH is freely publicly available at:

Alternate JournalFront Bioinform
PubMed ID36304335
PubMed Central IDPMC9580958