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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Aug 29;92(18):8408-12.

Repacking protein cores with backbone freedom: structure prediction for coiled coils.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Progress in homology modeling and protein design has generated considerable interest in methods for predicting side-chain packing in the hydrophobic cores of proteins. Present techniques are not practically useful, however, because they are unable to model protein main-chain flexibility. Parameterization of backbone motions may represent a general and efficient method to incorporate backbone relaxation into such fixed main-chain models. To test this notion, we introduce a method for treating explicitly the backbone motions of alpha-helical bundles based on an algebraic parameterization proposed by Francis Crick in 1953 [Crick, F. H. C. (1953) Acta Crystallogr. 6, 685-689]. Given only the core amino acid sequence, a simple calculation can rapidly reproduce the crystallographic main-chain and core side-chain structures of three coiled coils (one dimer, one trimer, and one tetramer) to within 0.6-A root-mean-square deviations. The speed of the predictive method [approximately 3 min per rotamer choice on a Silicon Graphics (Mountain View, CA) 4D/35 computer] permits it to be used as a design tool.

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