PLAAC: a web and command-line application to identify proteins with prion-like amino acid composition

Alex K. Lancaster, Harvard Medical School
Andrew Nutter-Upham, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Susan Lindquist, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Oliver D. King, University of Massachusetts Medical School


Prions are self-templating protein aggregates that stably perpetuate distinct biological states and are of keen interest to researchers in both evolutionary and biomedical science. The best understood prions are from yeast and have a prion-forming domain with strongly biased amino acid composition, most notably enriched for Q or N. PLAAC is a web application that scans protein sequences for domains with P: rion- L: ike A: mino A: cid C: omposition. Users can upload sequence files, or paste sequences directly into a textbox. PLAAC ranks the input sequences by several summary scores and allows scores along sequences to be visualized. Text output files can be downloaded for further analyses, and visualizations saved in PDF and PNG formats.

AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The Ruby-based web framework and the command-line software (implemented in Java, with visualization routines in R) are available at under the MIT license. All software can be run under OS X, Windows and Unix.