Trends in structural coverage of the protein universe and the impact of the Protein Structure Initiative

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Mar 11;111(10):3733-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321614111. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


The exponential growth of protein sequence data provides an ever-expanding body of unannotated and misannotated proteins. The National Institutes of Health-supported Protein Structure Initiative and related worldwide structural genomics efforts facilitate functional annotation of proteins through structural characterization. Recently there have been profound changes in the taxonomic composition of sequence databases, which are effectively redefining the scope and contribution of these large-scale structure-based efforts. The faster-growing bacterial genomic entries have overtaken the eukaryotic entries over the last 5 y, but also have become more redundant. Despite the enormous increase in the number of sequences, the overall structural coverage of proteins--including proteins for which reliable homology models can be generated--on the residue level has increased from 30% to 40% over the last 10 y. Structural genomics efforts contributed ∼50% of this new structural coverage, despite determining only ∼10% of all new structures. Based on current trends, it is expected that ∼55% structural coverage (the level required for significant functional insight) will be achieved within 15 y, whereas without structural genomics efforts, realizing this goal will take approximately twice as long.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation / methods
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation / trends*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / trends*
  • Species Specificity


  • Proteins