Random Research Highlight: The Metagenomic Telescope.
Next generation sequencing technologies led to the discovery of numerous new microbe species in diverse environmental samples. Some of the new species contain genes never encountered before. Some of these genes encode proteins with novel functions, and some of these genes encode proteins that perform some well-known function in a novel way.
A tool, named the Metagenomic Telescope, is described here that applies artificial intelligence methods (Hidden Markov Models, HMMs), and seems to be capable of identifying new protein functions even in the well-studied model organisms by two, subsequent projections, using HMM profiling.
On the figure below, the original HMM projection (upper panel) is compared to the scheme of the Metagenomic Telescope (lower panel) that uses two HMM-based projections: Projection 1 to the metagenome, the Projection 2 from the metagenome. Projection 1 discovers genes or proteins in the metagenome that probably have similar function as the well-known starting proteins in front of the objective lens on the right hand side. Projection 2 directly identifies these proteins within the proteomes of the model organisms.
PLoS One,. Vol. 9, No. 7, e101605, July 2014.