GibbsCluster: unsupervised clustering and alignment of peptide sequences

Massimo Andreatta, Bruno Alvarez, Morten Nielsen

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    Receptor interactions with short linear peptide fragments (ligands) are at the base of many biological signaling processes. Conserved and information-rich amino acid patterns, commonly called sequence motifs, shape and regulate these interactions. Because of the properties of a receptor-ligand system or of the assay used to interrogate it, experimental data often contain multiple sequence motifs. GibbsCluster is a powerful tool for unsupervised motif discovery because it can simultaneously cluster and align peptide data. The GibbsCluster 2.0 presented here is an improved version incorporating insertion and deletions accounting for variations in motif length in the peptide input. In basic terms, the program takes as input a set of peptide sequences and clusters them into meaningful groups. It returns the optimal number of clusters it identified, together with the sequence alignment and sequence motif characterizing each cluster. Several parameters are available to customize cluster analysis, including adjustable penalties for small clusters and overlapping groups and a trash cluster to remove outliers. As an example application, we used the server to deconvolute multiple specificities in large-scale peptidome data generated by mass spectrometry. The server is available at
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNucleic acids research
    Issue numberW1
    Pages (from-to)W458-W463
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    ©The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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