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Proteins. 2006 Dec 1;65(4):930-52.

Novel approach for alpha-helical topology prediction in globular proteins: generation of interhelical restraints.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-5263, USA.


The protein folding problem represents one of the most challenging problems in computational biology. Distance constraints and topology predictions can be highly useful for the folding problem in reducing the conformational space that must be searched by deterministic algorithms to find a protein structure of minimum conformational energy. We present a novel optimization framework for predicting topological contacts and generating interhelical distance restraints between hydrophobic residues in alpha-helical globular proteins. It should be emphasized that since the model does not make assumptions about the form of the helices, it is applicable to all alpha-helical proteins, including helices with kinks and irregular helices. This model aims at enhancing the ASTRO-FOLD protein folding approach of Klepeis and Floudas (Journal of Computational Chemistry 2003;24:191-208), which finds the structure of global minimum conformational energy via a constrained nonlinear optimization problem. The proposed topology prediction model was evaluated on 26 alpha-helical proteins ranging from 2 to 8 helices and 35 to 159 residues, and the best identified average interhelical distances corresponding to the predicted contacts fell below 11 A in all 26 of these systems. Given the positive results of applying the model to several protein systems, the importance of interhelical hydrophobic-to-hydrophobic contacts in determining the folding of alpha-helical globular proteins is highlighted.

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