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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 1995 Apr;5(2):236-44.

Statistics of sequence-structure threading.

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Computational Biology Branch, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA.


The past two years have seen the rapid development of new recognition methods for protein structure prediction. These algorithms 'thread' the sequence of one protein through the known structure of another, looking for an alignment that corresponds to an energetically favorable model structure. Because they are based on energy calculation, rather than evolutionary distance, these methods extend the possibility of structure prediction by comparative modeling to a larger class of new sequences, where similarity to known structures is recognizable by no other means. The strength of the evidence they offer should be judged by objective statistical tests, however, so as to rule out the possibility that favorable scores arise from chance factors such as similarity of length, composition, or the consideration of a large number of alternative alignments. Calculation of objective p-values by analytical means is not yet possible, but it would appear that approximate values may be obtained by simulation, as they are in gapped, global sequence alignment. We propose that the results of threading experiments should include Z-scores relative to the composition-corrected score distribution obtained for shuffled and optimally aligned sequences.

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