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J Mol Biol. 1996 Mar 1;256(3):623-44.

Residue-residue potentials with a favorable contact pair term and an unfavorable high packing density term, for simulation and threading.

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  • 1Faculty of Technology Gunma Univrsity, Kiryu Gunma, Japan.


Attractive inter-residue contact energies for proteins have been re-evaluated with the same assumptions and approximations used originally by us in 1985, but with a significantly larger set of protein crystal structures. An additional repulsive packing energy term, operative at higher densities to prevent overpacking, has also been estimated for all 20 amino acids as a function of the number of contacting residues, based on their observed distributions. The two terms of opposite sign are intended to be used together to provide an estimate of the overall energies of inter-residue interactions in simplified proteins without atomic details. To overcome the problem of how to utilize the many homologous proteins in the Protein Data Bank, a new scheme has been devised to assign different weights to each protein, based on similarities among amino acid sequences. A total of 1168 protein structures containing 1661 subunit sequences are actually used here. After the sequence weights have been applied, these correspond to an effective number of residue-residue contacts of 113,914, or about six times more than were used in the old analysis. Remarkably, the new attractive contact energies are nearly identical to the old ones, except for those with Leu and the rarer amino acids Trp and Met. The largest change found for Leu is surprising. The estimates of hydrophobicity from the contact energies for non-polar side-chains agree well with the experimental values. In an application of these contact energies, the sequences of 88 structurally distinct proteins in the Protein Data Bank are threaded at all possible positions without gaps into 189 different folds of proteins whose sequences differ from each other by at least 35% sequence identity. The native structures for 73 of 88 proteins, excluding 15 exceptional proteins such as membrane proteins, are all demonstrated to have the lowest alignment energies.

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