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Methods Enzymol. 2005;394:42-78.

Molecular fragment replacement approach to protein structure determination by chemical shift and dipolar homology database mining.

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Department of Theoretical Chemistry and Molecular Structural Biology, University of Vienna, Austria.


A novel approach is described for determining backbone structures of proteins that is based on finding fragments in the protein data bank (PDB). For each fragment in the target protein, usually chosen to be 7-10 residues in length, PDB fragments are selected that best fit to experimentally determined one-bond heteronuclear dipolar couplings and that show agreement between chemical shifts predicted for the PDB fragment and experimental values for the target fragment. These fragments are subsequently refined by simulated annealing to improve agreement with the experimental data. If the lowest-energy refined fragments form a unique structural cluster, this structure is accepted and side chains are added on the basis of a conformational database potential. The sequential backbone assembly process extends the chain by translating an accepted fragment onto it. For several small proteins, with extensive sets of dipolar couplings measured in two alignment media, a unique final structure is obtained that agrees well with structures previously solved by conventional methods. With less dipolar input data, large, oriented fragments of each protein are obtained, but their relative positioning requires either a small set of translationally restraining nuclear Overhauser enhancements (NOEs) or a protocol that optimizes burial of hydrophobic groups and pairing of beta-strands.

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