Accurate structural validation of proteins is of extreme importance in studies like protein structure prediction, analysis of molecular dynamic simulation trajectories and finding subtle changes in very similar structures. The benchmarks for today's structure validation are scoring methods like global distance test-total structure (GDT-TS), TM-score and root mean square deviations (RMSD). However, there is a lack of methods that look at both the protein backbone and side-chain structures at the global connectivity level and provide information about the differences in connectivity. To address this gap, a graph spectral based method (NSS-network similarity score) which has been recently developed to rigorously compare networks in diverse fields, is adopted to compare protein structures both at the backbone and at the side-chain noncovalent connectivity levels. In this study, we validate the performance of NSS by investigating protein structures from X-ray structures, modeling (including CASP models), and molecular dynamics simulations. Further, we systematically identify the local and the global regions of the structures contributing to the difference in NSS, through the components of the score, a feature unique to this spectral based scoring scheme. It is demonstrated that the method can quantify subtle differences in connectivity compared to a reference protein structure and can form a robust basis for protein structure comparison. Additionally, we have also introduced a network-based method to analyze fluctuations in side chain interactions (edge-weights) in an ensemble of structures, which can be an useful tool for the analysis of MD trajectories.
Keywords: CASP; clustering; fluctuations; model validation; molecular dynamic simulation; network similarity; protein structure networks; side chain networks; structure comparison; weighted networks.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.