Along with over 150 other groups we have tested our template-based protein structure prediction approach by submitting models for 30 target proteins to the sixth round of the Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction Methods (CASP6, http://predictioncenter.org). Most of our modeled proteins fall into the comparative or homology modeling (CM) category, and some are fold recognition (FR) targets. The key feature of our structure prediction strategy in CASP6 was an attempt to optimally select structural templates and to make accurate sequence-structure alignments. Template selection was based mainly on consensus results of multiple sequence searches. Likewise, the consensus of multiple alignment variants (or lack of it) was used to initially delineate reliable and unreliable alignment regions. Structure evaluation approaches were then used to identify the correct sequence-structure mapping. Our results suggest that in many cases use of multiple templates is advantageous. Selecting correct alignments even within the context of a three-dimensional structure remains a challenge. Together with more effective energy evaluation methods the simultaneous relaxation/refinement of a "frozen" backbone inherited from the template is likely needed to see a clear progress in tackling this problem. Our analysis also suggests that human input has little to contribute to automatic methods in modeling high homology targets. On the other hand, human expertise can be very valuable in modeling distantly related proteins and critical in cases of unexpected evolutionary changes in protein structure.
2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.