Are database-derived potentials valid for scoring both forward and inverted protein folding?

TitleAre database-derived potentials valid for scoring both forward and inverted protein folding?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsRooman, M. J., and Wodak S. J.
JournalProtein Eng
Date Published1995 Sep
KeywordsAmino Acid Sequence, Databases, Factual, Protein Conformation, Protein Denaturation, Protein Folding, Proteins, Thermodynamics

Database-derived potentials, compiled from frequencies of sequence and structure features, are often used for scoring the compatibility of protein sequences and conformations. It is often believed that these scores correspond to differences in free energy with, in addition, a term containing the partition function of the system. Since this function does not depend on the conformation, the potentials are considered to be valid for scoring the compatibility of different conformations with a given sequence ('forward folding'), but not of sequences with a given structure ('inverted folding'). This interpretation is questioned here. It is argued that when many body-effects, which dominate frequencies compiled from the protein database, are corrected for, the potentials approximate a physically meaningful free energy difference from which the partition function term cancels out. It is the difference between the free energy of a given sequence in a specific conformation and that of the same sequence in a denatured-like state. Two examples of denatured-like states are discussed. Depending on the considered state, the free energy difference reduces to the commonly used scoring scheme, or contains additional terms that depend on the sequence. In both cases, all the terms can be derived from sequence-structure frequencies in the database. Such free energy difference, commonly defined as the folding free energy, is a measure of protein stability and can be used for scoring both forward and inverted protein folding. The implications for the use of knowledge-based potentials in protein structure prediction are described. Finally, the difficulty of designing tests that could validate the proposed approach, and the inherent limitations of such tests, are discussed.

Alternate JournalProtein Eng.
PubMed ID8746722