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Biophys J. 1995 Feb;68(2):434-47.

Peptide design in machina: development of artificial mitochondrial protein precursor cleavage sites by simulated molecular evolution.

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Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Medizinische/Technische Physik und Lasermedizin, AG Molekulare Bioinformatik, Germany.


Artificial neural networks were used for extraction of characteristic physiochemical features from mitochondrial matrix metalloprotease target sequences. The amino acid properties hydrophobicity and volume were used for sequence encoding. A window of 12 residues was employed, encompassing positions -7 to +5 of precursors with cleavage sites. Two sets of noncleavage site examples were selected for network training which was performed by an evolution strategy. The weight vectors of the optimized networks were visualized and interpreted by Hinton diagrams. A neural filter system consisting of 13 perceptron-type networks accurately classified the data. It served as the fitness function in a simulated molecular evolution procedure for sequence-oriented de novo design of idealized cleavage sites. A detailed description of the strategy is given. Several putative high-quality cleavage sites were obtained revealing the critical nature of the residues in the positions -2 and -5. Charged residues seem to have a major influence on cleavage site function.

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