Comparative modeling aims at constructing molecular models for proteins of unknown structure, by using known structures of related proteins as templates. To test the comparative modeling approach reported here, predictions for 13 target proteins were submitted during the fourth round of "blind" protein structure prediction experiment (CASP4; http://PredictionCenter.llnl.gov/casp4). Sequence identity between these target proteins and the closest known structures ranged from 13 to 58%, indicating a broad spectrum of prediction difficulty. Although this broad difficulty range required addressing a variety of issues, the most important proved to be sequence-structure alignment for distant homology targets. The alignment step was based on structure-based evaluation of alignment variants produced mainly with PSI-BLAST intermediate sequence search procedure (PSI-BLAST-ISS). Although a fraction of correctly aligned residues in resulting models was markedly better than the average in all cases, for distant homology targets it was still considerably below the estimated achievable level. Results with CASP4 targets show that, along with the correctness of sequence-structure alignments, effective use of multiple template structures may significantly increase accuracy of the model structure. Improvement in this area should also result in more accurate loop modeling and side-chain prediction.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.