Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Bioinformatics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

The utility of comparative models and the local model quality for protein crystal structure determination by Molecular Replacement

Marcin Pawlowski1* and Janusz M Bujnicki12

Author affiliations

1 Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Protein Engineering, International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Trojdena 4, Warsaw, PL-02-109, Poland

2 Laboratory of Bioinformatics, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, Poznan, PL-61-614, Poland

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13:289  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-289

Published: 5 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Computational models of protein structures were proved to be useful as search models in Molecular Replacement (MR), a common method to solve the phase problem faced by macromolecular crystallography. The success of MR depends on the accuracy of a search model. Unfortunately, this parameter remains unknown until the final structure of the target protein is determined. During the last few years, several Model Quality Assessment Programs (MQAPs) that predict the local accuracy of theoretical models have been developed. In this article, we analyze whether the application of MQAPs improves the utility of theoretical models in MR.

Results

For our dataset of 615 search models, the real local accuracy of a model increases the MR success ratio by 101% compared to corresponding polyalanine templates. On the contrary, when local model quality is not utilized in MR, the computational models solved only 4.5% more MR searches than polyalanine templates. For the same dataset of the 615 models, a workflow combining MR with predicted local accuracy of a model found 45% more correct solution than polyalanine templates. To predict such accuracy MetaMQAPclust, a “clustering MQAP” was used.

Conclusions

Using comparative models only marginally increases the MR success ratio in comparison to polyalanine structures of templates. However, the situation changes dramatically once comparative models are used together with their predicted local accuracy. A new functionality was added to the GeneSilico Fold Prediction Metaserver in order to build models that are more useful for MR searches. Additionally, we have developed a simple method, AmIgoMR (Am I good for MR?), to predict if an MR search with a template-based model for a given template is likely to find the correct solution.

Keywords:
Molecular replacement; MR; MQAP; Model quality assessment; Protein structure prediction