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Nucleic Acids Res. Sep 15, 1998; 26(18): 4280–4290.
PMCID: PMC147832

A database of macromolecular motions.


We describe a database of macromolecular motions meant to be of general use to the structural community. The database, which is accessible on the World Wide Web with an entry point at http://bioinfo.mbb.yale.edu/MolMovDB , attempts to systematize all instances of protein and nucleic acid movement for which there is at least some structural information. At present it contains >120 motions, most of which are of proteins. Protein motions are further classified hierarchically into a limited number of categories, first on the basis of size (distinguishing between fragment, domain and subunit motions) and then on the basis of packing. Our packing classification divides motions into various categories (shear, hinge, other) depending on whether or not they involve sliding over a continuously maintained and tightly packed interface. In addition, the database provides some indication about the evidence behind each motion (i.e. the type of experimental information or whether the motion is inferred based on structural similarity) and attempts to describe many aspects of a motion in terms of a standardized nomenclature (e.g. the maximum rotation, the residue selection of a fixed core, etc.). Currently, we use a standard relational design to implement the database. However, the complexity and heterogeneity of the information kept in the database makes it an ideal application for an object-relational approach, and we are moving it in this direction. Specifically, in terms of storing complex information, the database contains plausible representations for motion pathways, derived from restrained 3D interpolation between known endpoint conformations. These pathways can be viewed in a variety of movie formats, and the database is associated with a server that can automatically generate these movies from submitted coordinates.

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