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J Mol Biol. 1997 Apr 18;267(5):1268-82.

Prediction of protein side-chain rotamers from a backbone-dependent rotamer library: a new homology modeling tool.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California San Francisco, 94143-0450, USA.


Modeling by homology is the most accurate computational method for translating an amino acid sequence into a protein structure. Homology modeling can be divided into two sub-problems, placing the polypeptide backbone and adding side-chains. We present a method for rapidly predicting the conformations of protein side-chains, starting from main-chain coordinates alone. The method involves using fewer than ten rotamers per residue from a backbone-dependent rotamer library and a search to remove steric conflicts. The method is initially tested on 299 high resolution crystal structures by rebuilding side-chains onto the experimentally determined backbone structures. A total of 77% of chi1 and 66% of chi(1 + 2) dihedral angles are predicted within 40 degrees of their crystal structure values. We then tested the method on the entire database of known structures in the Protein Data Bank. The predictive accuracy of the algorithm was strongly correlated with the resolution of the structures. In an effort to simulate a realistic homology modeling problem, 9424 homology models were created using three different modeling strategies. For prediction purposes, pairs of structures were identified which shared between 30% and 90% sequence identity. One strategy results in 82% of chi1 and 72% chi(1 + 2) dihedral angles predicted within 40 degrees of the target crystal structure values, suggesting that movements of the backbone associated with this degree of sequence identity are not large enough to disrupt the predictive ability of our method for non-native backbones. These results compared favorably with existing methods over a comprehensive data set.

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