Assessment of protein models with three-dimensional profiles

Nature. 1992 Mar 5;356(6364):83-5. doi: 10.1038/356083a0.


As methods for determining protein three-dimensional (3D) structure develop, a continuing problem is how to verify that the final protein model is correct. The revision of several protein models to correct errors has prompted the development of new criteria for judging the validity of X-ray and NMR structures, as well as the formation of energetic and empirical methods to evaluate the correctness of protein models. The challenge is to distinguish between a mistraced or wrongly folded model, and one that is basically correct, but not adequately refined. We show that an effective test of the accuracy of a 3D protein model is a comparison of the model to its own amino-acid sequence, using a 3D profile, computed from the atomic coordinates of the structure 3D profiles of correct protein structures match their own sequences with high scores. In contrast, 3D profiles for protein models known to be wrong score poorly. An incorrectly modelled segment in an otherwise correct structure can be identified by examining the profile score in a moving-window scan. The accuracy of a protein model can be assessed by its 3D profile, regardless of whether the model has been derived by X-ray, NMR or computational procedures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Proteins