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J Mol Biol. 2003 Dec 12;334(5):1043-62.

On the role of structural information in remote homology detection and sequence alignment: new methods using hybrid sequence profiles.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Structural alignments often reveal relationships between proteins that cannot be detected using sequence alignment alone. However, profile search methods based entirely on structural alignments alone have not been found to be effective in finding remote homologs. Here, we explore the role of structural information in remote homolog detection and sequence alignment. To this end, we develop a series of hybrid multidimensional alignment profiles that combine sequence, secondary and tertiary structure information into hybrid profiles. Sequence-based profiles are profiles whose position-specific scoring matrix is derived from sequence alignment alone; structure-based profiles are those derived from multiple structure alignments. We compare pure sequence-based profiles to pure structure-based profiles, as well as to hybrid profiles that use combined sequence-and-structure-based profiles, where sequence-based profiles are used in loop/motif regions and structural information is used in core structural regions. All of the hybrid methods offer significant improvement over simple profile-to-profile alignment. We demonstrate that both sequence-based and structure-based profiles contribute to remote homology detection and alignment accuracy, and that each contains some unique information. We discuss the implications of these results for further improvements in amino acid sequence and structural analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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