Contemporary approaches to protein structure classification

Bioessays. 1998 Nov;20(11):884-91. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-1878(199811)20:11<884::AID-BIES3>3.0.CO;2-H.


In a similar manner to sequence database searching, it is also possible to compare three-dimensional protein structure. Such methods can be extremely useful because a structural similarity may represent a distant evolutionary relationship that is undetectable by sequence analysis. In this review, we summarise the most popular structure comparison methods, show how they can be used for database searching, and then describe some of the most advanced attempts to develop comprehensive protein structure classifications. With such data, it is possible to identify distant evolutionary relationships, provide libraries of unique folds for structure prediction, estimate the total number of folds that exist, and investigate the preference for certain types of structures over others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Internet
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / classification*
  • Proteins / genetics


  • Proteins