Global rigid body modeling of macromolecular complexes against small-angle scattering data

Biophys J. 2005 Aug;89(2):1237-50. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.105.064154. Epub 2005 May 27.


New methods to automatically build models of macromolecular complexes from high-resolution structures or homology models of their subunits or domains against x-ray or neutron small-angle scattering data are presented. Depending on the complexity of the object, different approaches are employed for the global search of the optimum configuration of subunits fitting the experimental data. An exhaustive grid search is used for hetero- and homodimeric particles and for symmetric oligomers formed by identical subunits. For the assemblies or multidomain proteins containing more then one subunit/domain per asymmetric unit, heuristic algorithms based on simulated annealing are used. Fast computational algorithms based on spherical harmonics representation of scattering amplitudes are employed. The methods allow one to construct interconnected models without steric clashes, to account for the particle symmetry and to incorporate information from other methods, on distances between specific residues or nucleotides. For multidomain proteins, addition of missing linkers between the domains is possible. Simultaneous fitting of multiple scattering patterns from subcomplexes or deletion mutants is incorporated. The efficiency of the methods is illustrated by their application to complexes of different types in several simulated and practical examples. Limitations and possible ambiguity of rigid body modeling are discussed and simplified docking criteria are provided to rank multiple models. The methods described are implemented in publicly available computer programs running on major hardware platforms.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dimerization
  • Macromolecular Substances / analysis
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Neutron Diffraction / methods*
  • Software*
  • X-Ray Diffraction / methods*


  • Macromolecular Substances