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Structure. 2004 Aug;12(8):1405-12.

Finding functional sites in structural genomics proteins.

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EMBL, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Assigning function to structures is an important aspect of structural genomics projects, since they frequently provide structures for uncharacterized proteins. Similarities uncovered by structure alignment can suggest a similar function, even in the absence of sequence similarity. For proteins adopting novel folds or those with many functions, this strategy can fail, but functional clues can still come from comparison of local functional sites involving a few key residues. Here we assess the general applicability of functional site comparison through the study of 157 proteins solved by structural genomics initiatives. For 17, the method bolsters confidence in predictions made based on overall fold similarity. For another 12 with new folds, it suggests functions, including a putative phosphotyrosine binding site in the Archaeal protein Mth1187 and an active site for a ribose isomerase. The approach is applied weekly to all new structures, providing a resource for those interested in using structure to infer function.

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