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Machine learning can differentiate venom toxins from other proteins having non-toxic physiological functions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere90
Number of pages20
JournalPeerJ
Volume2016
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016

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Abstract

Ascribing function to sequence in the absence of biological data is an ongoing challenge in bioinformatics. Differentiating the toxins of venomous animals from homologues having other physiological functions is particularly problematic as there are no universally accepted methods by which to attribute toxin function using sequence data alone. Bioinformatics tools that do exist are difficult to implement for researchers with little bioinformatics training. Here we announce a machine learning tool called 'ToxClassifier' that enables simple and consistent discrimination of toxins from non-toxin sequences with > 99% accuracy and compare it to commonly used toxin annotation methods. 'ToxClassifer' also reports the best-hit annotation allowing placement of a toxin into the most appropriate toxin protein family, or relates it to a non-toxic protein having the closest homology, giving enhanced curation of existing biological databases and new venomics projects. 'ToxClassifier' is available for free, either to download (https://github.com/rgacesa/ToxClassifier) or to use on a web-based server (http://bioserv7.bioinfo.pbf.hr/ToxClassifier/).

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