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Proteins. 1997 Feb;27(2):249-71.

Patterns, structures, and amino acid frequencies in structural building blocks, a protein secondary structure classification scheme.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, SUNY 12222, USA. acque@isadora.albany.edu


To study local structures in proteins, we previously developed an autoassociative artificial neural network (autoANN) and clustering tool to discover intrinsic features of macromolecular structures. The hidden unit activations computed by the trained autoANN are a convenient low-dimensional encoding of the local protein backbone structure. Clustering these activation vectors results in a unique classification of protein local structural features called Structural Building Blocks (SBBs). Here we describe application of this method to a larger database of proteins, verification of the applicability of this method to structure classification, and subsequent analysis of amino acid frequencies and several commonly occurring patterns of SBBs. The SBB classification method has several interesting properties: 1) it identifies the regular secondary structures, alpha helix and beta strand; 2) it consistently identifies other local structure features (e.g., helix caps and strand caps); 3) strong amino acid preferences are revealed at some positions in some SBBs; and 4) distinct patterns of SBBs occur in the "random coil" regions of proteins. Analysis of these patterns identifies interesting structural motifs in the protein backbone structure, indicating that SBBs can be used as "building blocks" in the analysis of protein structure. This type of pattern analysis should increase our understanding of the relationship between protein sequence and local structure, especially in the prediction of protein structures.

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