Normal mode refinement of anisotropic thermal parameters for a supramolecular complex at 3.42-A crystallographic resolution

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 8;104(19):7869-74. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0701204104. Epub 2007 Apr 30.


Here we report a normal-mode-based protocol for modeling anisotropic thermal motions of proteins in x-ray crystallographic refinement. The foundation for this protocol is a recently developed elastic normal mode analysis that produces much more accurate eigenvectors without the tip effect. The effectiveness of the procedure is demonstrated on the refinement of a 3.42-A structure of formiminotransferase cyclodeaminase, a 0.5-MDa homooctameric enzyme. Using an order of magnitude fewer adjustable thermal parameters than the conventional isotropic refinement, this protocol resulted in a decrease of the values of R(cryst) and R(free) and improvements of the density map. Several poorly resolved regions in the original isotropically refined structure became clearer so that missing side chains were fitted easily and mistraced backbone was corrected. Moreover, the distribution of anisotropic thermal ellipsoids revealed functionally important structure flexibility. This normal-mode-based refinement is an effective way of describing anisotropic thermal motions in x-ray structures and is particularly attractive for the refinement of very large and flexible supramolecular complexes at moderate resolutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia-Lyases / chemistry*
  • Anisotropy
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Glutamate Formimidoyltransferase / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multifunctional Enzymes
  • Protein Conformation


  • Multifunctional Enzymes
  • FTCD protein, human
  • Glutamate Formimidoyltransferase
  • Ammonia-Lyases

Associated data

  • PDB/2PFD