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Proteins. 1997 Jun;28(2):241-60.

Structural trees for protein superfamilies.

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Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region.


Structural trees for large protein superfamilies, such as beta proteins with the aligned beta sheet packing, beta proteins with the orthogonal packing of alpha helices, two-layer and three-layer alpha/beta proteins, have been constructed. The structural motifs having unique overall folds and a unique handedness are taken as root structures of the trees. The larger protein structures of each superfamily are obtained by a stepwise addition of alpha helices and/or beta strands to the corresponding root motif, taking into account a restricted set of rules inferred from known principles of the protein structure. Among these rules, prohibition of crossing connections, attention to handedness and compactness, and a requirement for alpha helices to be packed in alpha-helical layers and beta strands in beta layers are the most important. Proteins and domains whose structures can be obtained by stepwise addition of alpha helices and/or beta strands to the same root motif can be grouped into one structural class or a superfamily. Proteins and domains found within branches of a structural tree can be grouped into subclasses or subfamilies. Levels of structural similarity between different proteins can easily be observed by visual inspection. Within one branch, protein structures having a higher position in the tree include the structures located lower. Proteins and domains of different branches have the structure located in the branching point as the common fold.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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