Identifying bacterial and archaeal homologs of pentameric ligand-gated ion channel (pLGIC) family using domain-based and alignment-based approaches.

Gloria Rendon, Miriam R. Kantorovitz, Jeffrey L. Tilson, Eric Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identification of bacterial and archaeal counterparts to eukaryotic ion channels has greatly facilitated studies of structural biophysics of the channels. Often, searches based only on sequence alignment tools are inadequate for discovering such distant bacterial and archaeal counterparts. We address the discovery of bacterial and archaeal members of the Pentameric Ligand-Gated Ion Channel (pLGIC) family by a combination of four computational methods. One domain-based method involves retrieval of proteins with pLGIC-relevant domains by matching those domains to previously established domain templates in the InterPro family of databases. The second domain-based method involves searches using ungapped de-novo motifs discovered by MEME which were trained with well characterized members of the pLGIC family. The third and fourth methods involve the use of two sequence alignment search algorithms BLASTp and psiBLAST respectively. The sequences returned from all methods were screened by having the correct topology for pLGIC's, and by returning an annotated member of this family as one of the first ten hits using BLASTp against a comprehensive database of eukaryotic proteins. We found the domain based searches to have high specificity but low sensitivity, while the sequence alignment methods have higher sensitivity but lower specificity. The four methods together discovered 69 putative bacterial and archaeal members of the pLGIC family. We ranked and divide the 69 proteins into groups according to the similarity of their domain compositions with known eukaryotic pLGIC's. One especially notable group is more closely related to eukaryotic pLGIC's than to any other known protein family, and has the overall topology of pLGIC's, but the functional domains they contain are sufficiently different from those found in known pLGIC's that they do not score very well against the pLGIC domain templates. We conclude that multiple methods used in a coordinated fashion outperform any single method for identifying likely distant bacterial and archaeal proteins that may provide useful models for important eukaryotic channel function. We note also that the methods used here are largely standard and readily accessible. The novelty is in the effectiveness of a strategy that combines these methods for identifying bacterial and archea relatives of this family. Therefore the paper may serve as a template for a broad group of workers to reliably identify bacterial and archaeal counterparts to eukaryotic proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-344
Number of pages20
JournalChannels (Austin, Tex.)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying bacterial and archaeal homologs of pentameric ligand-gated ion channel (pLGIC) family using domain-based and alignment-based approaches.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this