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In Genomics, proteomics & bioinformatics

Disordered flexible linkers (DFLs) are the functional disordered regions in proteins, which are the sub-regions of intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) and play important roles in connecting domains and maintaining inter-domain interactions. Trained with the limited available DFLs, the existing DFL predictors based on the machine learning techniques tend to predict the ordered residues as DFLs leading to a high false-positive rate (FPR) and low prediction accuracy. Previous studies have shown that DFLs are extremely flexible disordered regions, which are usually predicted as disordered residues with high confidence [P(D) > 0.9] by an IDR predictor. Therefore, transferring an IDR predictor to an accurate DFL predictor is of great significance for understanding the functions of IDRs. In this study, we proposed a new predictor called TransDFL for identifying DFLs by transferring the RFPR-IDP predictor for IDR identification to the DFL prediction. The RFPR-IDP was pre-trained with IDR sequences to learn the general features between IDRs and DFLs, which is helpful to reduce the false positives in the ordered regions. RFPR-IDP was fine-tuned with the DFL sequences to capture the specific features of DFLs so as to be transferred into the TransDFL. Experimental results of two application scenarios (prediction of DFLs only in the IDRs or prediction of DFLs in the entire proteins) showed that TransDFL consistently outperforms the other existing DFL predictors with higher accuracy. The corresponding web server of TransDFL can be freely accessed from

Pang Yihe, Liu Bin


Computational predictor, Disordered flexible linkers, False-positive rate, Intrinsically disordered proteins, Transfer learning