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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 15;107(24):10896-901. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005894107. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Protein interface conservation across structure space.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, 1130 St Nicholas Avenue, Room 815, New York, NY 10032, USA.


With the advent of Systems Biology, the prediction of whether two proteins form a complex has become a problem of increased importance. A variety of experimental techniques have been applied to the problem, but three-dimensional structural information has not been widely exploited. Here we explore the range of applicability of such information by analyzing the extent to which the location of binding sites on protein surfaces is conserved among structural neighbors. We find, as expected, that interface conservation is most significant among proteins that have a clear evolutionary relationship, but that there is a significant level of conservation even among remote structural neighbors. This finding is consistent with recent evidence that information available from structural neighbors, independent of classification, should be exploited in the search for functional insights. The value of such structural information is highlighted through the development of a new protein interface prediction method, PredUs, that identifies what residues on protein surfaces are likely to participate in complexes with other proteins. The performance of PredUs, as measured through comparisons with other methods, suggests that relationships across protein structure space can be successfully exploited in the prediction of protein-protein interactions.

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