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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Systematic analysis of the effect of multiple templates on the accuracy of comparative models of protein structure

Suvobrata Chakravarty, Sucheta Godbole, Bing Zhang, Seth Berger and Roberto Sanchez*

Author Affiliations

Department of Structural and Chemical Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10029, USA

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BMC Structural Biology 2008, 8:31  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-8-31

Published: 16 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Although multiple templates are frequently used in comparative modeling, the effect of inclusion of additional template(s) on model accuracy (when compared to that of corresponding single-template based models) is not clear. To address this, we systematically analyze two-template models, the simplest case of multiple-template modeling. For an existing target-template pair (single-template modeling), a two-template based model of the target sequence is constructed by including an additional template without changing the original alignment to measure the effect of the second template on model accuracy.

Results

Even though in a large number of cases a two-template model showed higher accuracy than the corresponding one-template model, over the entire dataset only a marginal improvement was observed on average, as there were many cases where no change or the reverse change was observed. The increase in accuracy due to the structural complementarity of the templates increases at higher alignment accuracies. The combination of templates showing the highest potential for improvement is that where both templates share similar and low (less than 30%) sequence identity with the target, as well as low sequence identity with each other. The structural similarity between the templates also helps in identifying template combinations having a higher chance of resulting in an improved model.

Conclusion

Inclusion of additional template(s) does not necessarily improve model quality, but there are distinct combinations of the two templates, which can be selected a priori, that tend to show improvement in model quality over the single template model. The benefit derived from the structural complementarity is dependent on the accuracy of the modeling alignment. The study helps to explain the observation that a careful selection of templates together with an accurate target:template alignment are necessary to the benefit from using multiple templates in comparative modeling and provides guidelines to maximize the benefit from using multiple templates. This enables formulation of simple template selection rules to rank targets of a protein family in the context of structural genomics.