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Proteins. 1998 Feb 15;30(3):228-31.

Structural diversity of sequentially identical subsequences of proteins: identical octapeptides can have different conformations.

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Department of Protein Chemistry, Immunex Corporation, Seattle, Washington, USA.


One of the most important questions in the protein folding problem is whether secondary structures are formed entirely by local interactions. One way to answer this question is to compare identical subsequences of proteins to see if they have identical structures. Such an exercise would also reveal a lower limit on the number of amino acids needed to form unique secondary structures. In this context, we have searched the April 1996 release of the Protein Data Bank for sequentially identical subsequences of proteins and compared their structures. We find that identical octamers can have different conformations. In addition, there are several examples of identical heptamers with different conformations, and the number of identical hexamers with different conformations has increased since the previous PDB releases. These observations imply that secondary structure can be formed entirely by non-local interactions and that an identical match of up to eight amino acids may not imply structural similarity. In addition to the larger context of the protein folding problem, these observations have implications for protein structure prediction methods.

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