PTMscape: an open source tool to predict generic post-translational modifications and map modification crosstalk in protein domains and biological processes
While tandem mass spectrometry can detect post-translational modifications (PTM) at the proteome scale, reported PTM sites are often incomplete and include false positives. Computational approaches can complement these datasets by additional predictions, but most available tools use prediction models pre-trained for single PTM type by the developers and it remains a difficult task to perform large-scale batch prediction for multiple PTMs with flexible user control, including the choice of training data. We developed an R package called PTMscape which predicts PTM sites across the proteome based on a unified and comprehensive set of descriptors of the physico-chemical microenvironment of modified sites, with additional downstream analysis modules to test enrichment of individual or pairs of PTMs in protein domains. PTMscape is flexible in the ability to process any major modifications, such as phosphorylation and ubiquitination, while achieving the sensitivity and specificity comparable to single-PTM methods and outperforming other multi-PTM tools. Applying this framework, we expanded proteome-wide coverage of five major PTMs affecting different residues by prediction, especially for lysine and arginine modifications. Using a combination of experimentally acquired sites (PSP) and newly predicted sites, we discovered that the crosstalk among multiple PTMs occur more frequently than by random chance in key protein domains such as histone, protein kinase, and RNA recognition motifs, spanning various biological processes such as RNA processing, DNA damage response, signal transduction, and regulation of cell cycle. These results provide a proteome-scale analysis of crosstalk among major PTMs and can be easily extended to other types of PTM.