TOUCHSTONE: an ab initio protein structure prediction method that uses threading-based tertiary restraints

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Aug 28;98(18):10125-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.181328398. Epub 2001 Aug 14.


The successful prediction of protein structure from amino acid sequence requires two features: an efficient conformational search algorithm and an energy function with a global minimum in the native state. As a step toward addressing both issues, a threading-based method of secondary and tertiary restraint prediction has been developed and applied to ab initio folding. Such restraints are derived by extracting consensus contacts and local secondary structure from at least weakly scoring structures that, in some cases, can lack any global similarity to the sequence of interest. Furthermore, to generate representative protein structures, a reduced lattice-based protein model is used with replica exchange Monte Carlo to explore conformational space. We report results on the application of this methodology, termed TOUCHSTONE, to 65 proteins whose lengths range from 39 to 146 residues. For 47 (40) proteins, a cluster centroid whose rms deviation from native is below 6.5 (5) A is found in one of the five lowest energy centroids. The number of correctly predicted proteins increases to 50 when atomic detail is added and a knowledge-based atomic potential is combined with clustered and nonclustered structures for candidate selection. The combination of the ratio of the relative number of contacts to the protein length and the number of clusters generated by the folding algorithm is a reliable indicator of the likelihood of successful fold prediction, thereby opening the way for genome-scale ab initio folding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Proteins