Domain fusion is a useful tool in protein design. Here, the structure of a fusion of the heterodimeric flagella-assembly proteins FliS and FliC is reported. Although the ability of the fusion protein to maintain the structure of the heterodimer may be apparent, threading-based structural predictions do not properly fuse the heterodimer. Additional examples of naturally occurring heterodimers that are homologous to full-length proteins were identified. These examples highlight that the designed protein was engineered by the same tools as used in the natural evolution of proteins and that heterodimeric structures contain a wealth of information, currently unused, that can improve structural predictions.
Keywords: protein design; protein fusion; protein threading; structure prediction.