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J Mol Biol. 2001 Aug 10;311(2):395-408.

Automated structure-based prediction of functional sites in proteins: applications to assessing the validity of inheriting protein function from homology in genome annotation and to protein docking.

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Institut de Biologia Fonamental and Departament de Bioquimica, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, 08193, Spain.


A major problem in genome annotation is whether it is valid to transfer the function from a characterised protein to a homologue of unknown activity. Here, we show that one can employ a strategy that uses a structure-based prediction of protein functional sites to assess the reliability of functional inheritance. We have automated and benchmarked a method based on the evolutionary trace approach. Using a multiple sequence alignment, we identified invariant polar residues, which were then mapped onto the protein structure. Spatial clusters of these invariant residues formed the predicted functional site. For 68 of 86 proteins examined, the method yielded information about the observed functional site. This algorithm for functional site prediction was then used to assess the validity of transferring the function between homologues. This procedure was tested on 18 pairs of homologous proteins with unrelated function and 70 pairs of proteins with related function, and was shown to be 94 % accurate. This automated method could be linked to schemes for genome annotation. Finally, we examined the use of functional site prediction in protein-protein and protein-DNA docking. The use of predicted functional sites was shown to filter putative docked complexes with a discrimination similar to that obtained by manually including biological information about active sites or DNA-binding residues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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