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Can Morphing Methods Predict Intermediate Structures?, D R Weiss, M Levitt, J Mol Biol; 385(2):665-74. (2009)  View
Related Publications
Can Morphing Methods Predict Intermediate Structures?, D R Weiss, M Levitt, (in press), Journal of Molecular Biology (2008)

Movement is crucial to the biological function of many proteins, yet crystallographic structures of proteins can give us only a static snapshot. The protein dynamics that are important to biological function often happen on a timescale that is unattainable through detailed simulation methods such as molecular dynamics as they often involve crossing high-energy barriers. To address this coarse-grained motion, several methods have been implemented as web servers in which a set of coordinates is usually linearly interpolated from an initial crystallographic structure to a final crystallographic structure. We present a new morphing method that does not extrapolate linearly and can therefore go around high-energy barriers and which can produce different trajectories between the same two starting points. In this work, we evaluate our method and other established coarse-grained methods according to an objective measure: how close a coarse-grained dynamics method comes to a crystallographically determined intermediate structure when calculating a trajectory between the initial and final crystal protein structure. We test this with a set of five proteins with at least three crystallographically determined on-pathway high-resolution intermediate structures from the Protein Data Bank. For simple hinging motions involving a small conformational change, segmentation of the protein into two rigid sections outperforms other more computationally involved methods. However, large-scale conformational change is best addressed using a nonlinear approach and we suggest that there is merit in further developing such methods.