We report a novel computational procedure for determining protein native topology, or fold, by defining loop connectivity based on skeletons of secondary structures that can usually be obtained from low to intermediate-resolution density maps. The procedure primarily involves a knowledge-based geometry filter followed by an energetics-based evaluation. It was tested on a large set of skeletons covering a wide range of protein architecture, including one modeled from an experimentally determined 7.6 Å cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) density map. The results showed that the new procedure could effectively deduce protein folds without high-resolution structural data, a feature that could also be used to recognize native fold in structure prediction and to interpret data in fields like structure genomics. Most importantly, in the energetics-based evaluation, it was revealed that, despite the inevitable errors in the artificially constructed structures and limited accuracy of knowledge-based potential functions, the average energy of an ensemble of structures with slightly different configurations around the native skeleton is a much more robust parameter for marking native topology than the energy of individual structures in the ensemble. This result implies that, among all the possible topology candidates for a given skeleton, evolution has selected the native topology as the one that can accommodate the largest structural variations, not the one rigidly trapped in a deep, but narrow, conformational energy well.
- Geometry scoring
- Protein fold
- Secondary structure assignment
- Secondary-structural skeleton
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology