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Protein Sci. 2007 Jan;16(1):4-13.

Analysis and prediction of functionally important sites in proteins.

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  • 1National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Libary of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA. chakraba@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov


The rapidly increasing volume of sequence and structure information available for proteins poses the daunting task of determining their functional importance. Computational methods can prove to be very useful in understanding and characterizing the biochemical and evolutionary information contained in this wealth of data, particularly at functionally important sites. Therefore, we perform a detailed survey of compositional and evolutionary constraints at the molecular and biological function level for a large set of known functionally important sites extracted from a wide range of protein families. We compare the degree of conservation across different functional categories and provide detailed statistical insight to decipher the varying evolutionary constraints at functionally important sites. The compositional and evolutionary information at functionally important sites has been compiled into a library of functional templates. We developed a module that predicts functionally important columns (FIC) of an alignment based on the detection of a significant "template match score" to a library template. Our template match score measures an alignment column's similarity to a library template and combines a term explicitly representing a column's residue composition with various evolutionary conservation scores (information content and position-specific scoring matrix-derived statistics). Our benchmarking studies show good sensitivity/specificity for the prediction of functional sites and high accuracy in attributing correct molecular function type to the predicted sites. This prediction method is based on information derived from homologous sequences and no structural information is required. Therefore, this method could be extremely useful for large-scale functional annotation.

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