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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 11;97(8):3977-81.

A statistical mechanical method to optimize energy functions for protein folding.

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Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Takustrasse 6, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


We present a method for deriving energy functions for protein folding by maximizing the thermodynamic average of the overlap with the native state. The method has been tested by using the pairwise contact approximation of the energy function and generating alternative structures by threading sequences over a database of 1, 169 structures. With the derived energy function, most native structures: (i) have minimal energy and (ii) are thermodynamically rather stable, and (iii) the corresponding energy landscapes are smooth. Precisely, 92% of the 1,013 x-ray structures are stabilized. Most failures can be attributed to the neglect of interactions between chains forming polychain proteins and of interactions with cofactors. When these are considered, only nine cases remain unexplained. In contrast, 38% of NMR structures are not assigned properly.

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