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Pac Symp Biocomput. 2001:240-50.

ViewFeature: integrated feature analysis and visualization.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0446, USA.


Visualization interfaces for high performance computing systems pose special problems due to the complexity and volume of data these systems manipulate. In the post-genomic era, scientists must be able to quickly gain insight into structure-function problems, and require flexible computing environments to quickly create interfaces that link the relevant tools. Feature, a program for analyzing protein sites, takes a set of 3-dimensional structures and creates statistical models of sites of structural or functional significance. Until now, Feature has provided no support for visualization, which can make understanding its results difficult. We have developed an extension to the molecular visualization program Chimera that integrates Feature's statistical models and site predictions with 3-dimensional structures viewed in Chimera. We call this extension ViewFeature, and it is designed to help users understand the structural Features that define a site of interest. We applied ViewFeature in an analysis of the enolase superfamily; a functionally distinct class of proteins that share a common fold, the alpha/beta barrel, in order to gain a more complete understanding of the conserved physical properties of this superfamily. In particular, we wanted to define the structural determinants that distinguish the enolase superfamily active site scaffold from other alpha/beta barrel superfamilies and particularly from other metal-binding alpha/beta barrel proteins. Through the use of ViewFeature, we have found that the C-terminal domain of the enolase superfamily does not differ at the scaffold level from metal-binding alpha/beta barrels. We are, however, able to differentiate between the metal-binding sites of alpha/beta barrels and those of other metal-binding proteins. We describe the overall architectural Features of enolases in a radius of 10 Angstroms around the active site.

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