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CRYSTALP2: sequence-based protein crystallization propensity prediction

Lukasz Kurgan1*, Ali A Razib1, Sara Aghakhani1, Scott Dick1, Marcin Mizianty1 and Samad Jahandideh2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Department of Medical Physics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

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BMC Structural Biology 2009, 9:50  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-9-50

Published: 31 July 2009



Current protocols yield crystals for <30% of known proteins, indicating that automatically identifying crystallizable proteins may improve high-throughput structural genomics efforts. We introduce CRYSTALP2, a kernel-based method that predicts the propensity of a given protein sequence to produce diffraction-quality crystals. This method utilizes the composition and collocation of amino acids, isoelectric point, and hydrophobicity, as estimated from the primary sequence, to generate predictions. CRYSTALP2 extends its predecessor, CRYSTALP, by enabling predictions for sequences of unrestricted size and provides improved prediction quality.


A significant majority of the collocations used by CRYSTALP2 include residues with high conformational entropy, or low entropy and high potential to mediate crystal contacts; notably, such residues are utilized by surface entropy reduction methods. We show that the collocations provide complementary information to the hydrophobicity and isoelectric point. Tests on four datasets show that CRYSTALP2 outperforms several existing sequence-based predictors (CRYSTALP, OB-score, and SECRET). CRYSTALP2's accuracy, MCC, and AROC range between 69.3 and 77.5%, 0.39 and 0.55, and 0.72 and 0.79, respectively. Our predictions are similar in quality and are complementary to the predictions of the most recent ParCrys and XtalPred methods. Our results also suggest that, as work in protein crystallization continues (thereby enlarging the population of proteins with known crystallization propensities), the prediction quality of the CRYSTALP2 method should increase. The prediction model and the datasets used in this contribution can be downloaded from webcite.


CRYSTALP2 provides relatively accurate crystallization propensity predictions for a given protein chain that either outperform or complement the existing approaches. The proposed method can be used to support current efforts towards improving the success rate in obtaining diffraction-quality crystals.