BEST: Improved Prediction of B-Cell Epitopes from Antigen Sequences
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Accurate identification of immunogenic regions in a given antigen chain is a difficult and actively pursued problem. Although accurate predictors for T-cell epitopes are already in place, the prediction of the B-cell epitopes requires further research. We overview the available approaches for the prediction of B-cell epitopes and propose a novel and accurate sequence-based solution. Our BEST (B-cell Epitope prediction using Support vector machine Tool) method predicts epitopes from antigen sequences, in contrast to some method that predict only from short sequence fragments, using a new architecture based on averaging selected scores generated from sliding 20-mers by a Support Vector Machine (SVM). The SVM predictor utilizes a comprehensive and custom designed set of inputs generated by combining information derived from the chain, sequence conservation, similarity to known (training) epitopes, and predicted secondary structure and relative solvent accessibility. Empirical evaluation on benchmark datasets demonstrates that BEST outperforms several modern sequence-based B-cell epitope predictors including ABCPred, method by Chen et al. (2007), BCPred, COBEpro, BayesB, and CBTOPE, when considering the predictions from antigen chains and from the chain fragments. Our method obtains a cross-validated area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for the fragment-based prediction at 0.81 and 0.85, depending on the dataset. The AUCs of BEST on the benchmark sets of full antigen chains equal 0.57 and 0.6, which is significantly and slightly better than the next best method we tested. We also present case studies to contrast the propensity profiles generated by BEST and several other methods.
© 2013 Gao et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCAL. (http://www.plos.org/journals/license.html)