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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Analysis of the impact of solvent on contacts prediction in proteins

Sergey A Samsonov, Joan Teyra, Gerd Anders and M Teresa Pisabarro*

Author Affiliations

Structural Bioinformatics, BIOTEC TU Dresden, Tatzberg 47-51, 01307 Dresden, Germany

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BMC Structural Biology 2009, 9:22  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-9-22

Published: 15 April 2009



The correlated mutations concept is based on the assumption that interacting protein residues coevolve, so that a mutation in one of the interacting counterparts is compensated by a mutation in the other. Approaches based on this concept have been widely used for protein contacts prediction since the 90s. Previously, we have shown that water-mediated interactions play an important role in protein interfaces. We have observed that current "dry" correlated mutations approaches might not properly predict certain interactions in protein interfaces due to the fact that they are water-mediated.


The goal of this study has been to analyze the impact of including solvent into the concept of correlated mutations. For this purpose we use linear combinations of the predictions obtained by the application of two different similarity matrices: a standard "dry" similarity matrix (DRY) and a "wet" similarity matrix (WET) derived from all water-mediated protein interfacial interactions in the PDB. We analyze two datasets containing 50 domains and 10 domain pairs from PFAM and compare the results obtained by using a combination of both matrices. We find that for both intra- and interdomain contacts predictions the introduction of a combination of a "wet" and a "dry" similarity matrix improves the predictions in comparison to the "dry" one alone.


Our analysis, despite the complexity of its possible general applicability, opens up that the consideration of water may have an impact on the improvement of the contact predictions obtained by correlated mutations approaches.