Accuracy analysis of multiple structure alignments

Protein Sci. 2009 Oct;18(10):2027-35. doi: 10.1002/pro.213.


Protein structure alignment methods are essential for many different challenges in protein science, such as the determination of relations between proteins in the fold space or the analysis and prediction of their biological function. A number of different pairwise and multiple structure alignment (MStA) programs have been developed and provided to the community. Prior knowledge of the expected alignment accuracy is desirable for the user of such tools. To retrieve an estimate of the performance of current structure alignment methods, we compiled a test suite taken from literature and the SISYPHUS database consisting of proteins that are difficult to align. Subsequently, different MStA programs were evaluated regarding alignment correctness and general limitations. The analysis shows that there are large differences in the success between the methods in terms of applicability and correctness. The latter ranges from 44 to 75% correct core positions. Taking only the best method result per test case this number increases to 84%. We conclude that the methods available are applicable to difficult cases, but also that there is still room for improvements in both, practicability and alignment correctness. An approach that combines the currently available methods supported by a proper score would be useful. Until then, a user should not rely on just a single program.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Protein
  • Myosins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Sequence Alignment / methods*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Software


  • Proteins
  • Myosins