Prediction of Protein Structure by Emphasizing Local Side-Chain/Backbone Interactions in Ensembles of Turn Fragments

Qiaojun Fang, David Shortle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The prediction strategy used in the CASP5 experiment was premised on the assumption that local side-chain/backbone interactions are the principal determinants of protein structure at low resolution. Our implementation of this assumption made extensive use of a scoring function based on the propensities of the 20 amino acids for 137 different sub-regions of the Ramachandran plot, allowing estimation of the quality of fit between a sequence segment and a known conformation. New folds were predicted in three steps: prediction of secondary structure, threading to isolate fragments of protein structures corresponding to one turn plus flanking helices/strands, and recombination of over-lapping fragments. The most important step in this fragment ensemble approach, the isolation of turn fragments, employed 2 to 6 sequence homologues when available, with clustering of the best scoring fragments to recover the most common turn arrangement. Recombinants formed between 3 to 8 turn fragments, with cross-overs confined to helix/strand segments, were selected for compactness plus low energy as estimated by empirical amino acid pair potentials, and the most common overall topology identified by visual inspection. Because significant amounts of steric overlap were permitted during the recombination step, the final model was manually adjusted to reduce overlap and to enhance protein-like structural features. Even though only one or two models were submitted per target, for several targets the correct chain topology was predicted for fragment lengths up to 100 amino acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-490
Number of pages5
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
StatePublished - 2003


  • Boltzmann hypothesis
  • Fragments
  • Propensities
  • Ramachandran map
  • Secondary structure
  • Structure prediction
  • Threading
  • Turns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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