Large-scale comparative assessment of computational predictors for lysine post-translational modification sites

Zhen Chen, Xuhan Liu, Fuyi Li, Chen Li, Tatiana Marquez-Lago, André Leier, Tatsuya Akutsu, Geoffrey I. Webb, Dakang Xu, Alexander Ian Smith, Lei Li, Kuo Chen Chou, Jiangning Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Lysine post-translational modifications (PTMs) play a crucial role in regulating diverse functions and biological processes of proteins. However, because of the large volumes of sequencing data generated from genome-sequencing projects, systematic identification of different types of lysine PTM substrates and PTM sites in the entire proteome remains a major challenge. In recent years, a number of computational methods for lysine PTM identification have been developed. These methods show high diversity in their core algorithms, features extracted and feature selection techniques and evaluation strategies. There is therefore an urgent need to revisit these methods and summarize their methodologies, to improve and further develop computational techniques to identify and characterize lysine PTMs from the large amounts of sequence data. With this goal in mind, we first provide a comprehensive survey on a large collection of 49 state-of-the-art approaches for lysine PTM prediction. We cover a variety of important aspects that are crucial for the development of successful predictors, including operating algorithms, sequence and structural features, feature selection, model performance evaluation and software utility. We further provide our thoughts on potential strategies to improve the model performance. Second, in order to examine the feasibility of using deep learning for lysine PTM prediction, we propose a novel computational framework, termed MUscADEL (Multiple Scalable Accurate Deep Learner for lysine PTMs), using deep, bidirectional, long short-term memory recurrent neural networks for accurate and systematic mapping of eight major types of lysine PTMs in the human and mouse proteomes. Extensive benchmarking tests show that MUscADEL outperforms current methods for lysine PTM characterization, demonstrating the potential and power of deep learning techniques in protein PTM prediction. The web server of MUscADEL, together with all the data sets assembled in this study, is freely available at We anticipate this comprehensive review and the application of deep learning will provide practical guide and useful insights into PTM prediction and inspire future bioinformatics studies in the related fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbby089
Pages (from-to)2267-2290
Number of pages24
JournalBriefings in Bioinformatics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • lysine post-translational modification
  • prediction model
  • sequence features
  • feature engineering
  • deep learning

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