The four principal objectives of the ELM consortium are to (1) design, (2) develop, (3) maintain and (4) apply, a novel infrastructure resource devoted to the prediction of functional motifs in protein sequences. ELM (short for Eukaryotic Linear Motif) will be both “virtual” – provided electronically – and “distributed” – provided by a network of sites. Effective prediction of short motifs will require the implementation of hitherto unique context-dependent filtering software. The ELM resource will be made available to researchers as WWW servers and as a package for local installation.
The four principle objectives correspond approximately to overlapping phases of the ELM project:
Design: The initial design requirements are to integrate: (I) a relational database; (II) data input requirements; (III) new application software; (IV) private consortium web servers; and (V) public web servers. The partners will collectively contribute both the inferred biological needs and the underlying technical specifications. A document will be prepared that describes the internal ELM architecture. Subsequent revisions to the document will be ratified by all ELM partners. A web-based input form will ensure that data input meets the internal specification.
Develop: An extensive development phase is needed to create the software needed to effectively query ELM and to generate useful predictions. Various context filters will be developed as separate modules. The easiest filter modules will be completed first, and the more complex filters later in the project. As the modules are completed, they will be integrated into the ELM resource as serial filters. For optimal performance, the fastest executing filters will be accessed first, so that only the surviving motif candidates are passed on to the slower filters.
Maintain: The ELM servers will be continually maintained and extended as the project matures. Data will be continually added into the ELM resource and older data will be revised as new biological findings are published in the literature. While many motifs are already known, during the project there will be a steady stream of new motif publications. In the mature phase of ELM, releases will be scheduled at 6 month intervals.
Apply: As the ELM resource matures, it will become increasingly powerful and useful to experimentalists. Predicted motifs will suggest unexpected functional interactions or help to confirm suspected but poorly characterised ones. The consortium partners, and their close collaborators in the host institutes, will investigate predicted motifs relevant to their research interests. Verification (and to an extent exclusion) of predicted linear motifs will lead to enhanced understanding of multifunctional multidomain proteins, many of which assemble (via linear motifs) into huge complexes whose aggregate functions are hard to investigate with current experimental approaches.
The new partner will develop an additional ab-initio filter to estimate the conformational preferences of parts of proteins. The main objective of the task proposed by the new partner is to provide a reliable tool for detection of protease target sites. This new objective represents an expansion of the ongoing work complementary to the objectives outlined in WP2 and W3.