Prediction of homologous protein structures based on conformational searches and energetics

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; *Artificial Intelligence; Cattle; Mutation; Protein Conformation; Rats; *Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid; Solvents; Thermodynamics; Trypsin; X-Ray Diffraction


A "knowledge-based" method of predicting the unknown structure of a protein from a homologous known structure using energetics to determine a sidechain conformation is proposed. The method consists of exchanging the residues in the known structure for the sequence of the unknown protein. Then a conformational search with molecular mechanics energy minimization is done on the exchanged residues. The lowest energy conformer is the one picked to be the predicted structure. In the structure of bovine trypsin, the importance of including a solvation energy term in the search is demonstrated for solvent accessible residues, while molecular mechanics alone is enough to correctly predict the conformation of internal residues. The correctness of the model is assessed by a volume error overlap of the predicted structure compared to the crystal structure. Finally, the structure of rat trypsin is predicted from the crystal structure of bovine trypsin. The sequences of these two proteins are 74% identical and all of the significant changes between them are on external residues. Thus, the inclusion of solvation energy in the conformational search is necessary to accurately predict the structure of the exchanged residues.

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Citation: Proteins. 1990;8(1):30-43. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed