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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

Fr-TM-align: a new protein structural alignment method based on fragment alignments and the TM-score

Shashi Bhushan Pandit and Jeffrey Skolnick*

Author Affiliations

Center for the Study of Systems Biology, School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9:531  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-531

Published: 12 December 2008

Abstract

Background

Protein tertiary structure comparisons are employed in various fields of contemporary structural biology. Most structure comparison methods involve generation of an initial seed alignment, which is extended and/or refined to provide the best structural superposition between a pair of protein structures as assessed by a structure comparison metric. One such metric, the TM-score, was recently introduced to provide a combined structure quality measure of the coordinate root mean square deviation between a pair of structures and coverage. Using the TM-score, the TM-align structure alignment algorithm was developed that was often found to have better accuracy and coverage than the most commonly used structural alignment programs; however, there were a number of situations when this was not true.

Results

To further improve structure alignment quality, the Fr-TM-align algorithm has been developed where aligned fragment pairs are used to generate the initial seed alignments that are then refined using dynamic programming to maximize the TM-score. For the assessment of the structural alignment quality from Fr-TM-align in comparison to other programs such as CE and TM-align, we examined various alignment quality assessment scores such as PSI and TM-score. The assessment showed that the structural alignment quality from Fr-TM-align is better in comparison to both CE and TM-align. On average, the structural alignments generated using Fr-TM-align have a higher TM-score (~9%) and coverage (~7%) in comparison to those generated by TM-align. Fr-TM-align uses an exhaustive procedure to generate initial seed alignments. Hence, the algorithm is computationally more expensive than TM-align.

Conclusion

Fr-TM-align, a new algorithm that employs fragment alignment and assembly provides better structural alignments in comparison to TM-align. The source code and executables of Fr-TM-align are freely downloadable at: http://cssb.biology.gatech.edu/skolnick/files/FrTMalign/ webcite.