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Proteins. 2009 Oct;77(1):220-34. doi: 10.1002/prot.22434.

A novel method for predicting and using distance constraints of high accuracy for refining protein structure prediction.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.


The principal bottleneck in protein structure prediction is the refinement of models from lower accuracies to the resolution observed by experiment. We developed a novel constraints-based refinement method that identifies a high number of accurate input constraints from initial models and rebuilds them using restrained torsion angle dynamics (rTAD). We previously created a Bayesian statistics-based residue-specific all-atom probability discriminatory function (RAPDF) to discriminate native-like models by measuring the probability of accuracy for atom type distances within a given model. Here, we exploit RAPDF to score (i.e., filter) constraints from initial predictions that may or may not be close to a native-like state, obtain consensus of top scoring constraints amongst five initial models, and compile sets with no redundant residue pair constraints. We find that this method consistently produces a large and highly accurate set of distance constraints from which to build refinement models. We further optimize the balance between accuracy and coverage of constraints by producing multiple structure sets using different constraint distance cutoffs, and note that the cutoff governs spatially near versus distant effects in model generation. This complete procedure of deriving distance constraints for rTAD simulations improves the quality of initial predictions significantly in all cases evaluated by us. Our procedure represents a significant step in solving the protein structure prediction and refinement problem, by enabling the use of consensus constraints, RAPDF, and rTAD for protein structure modeling and refinement.

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