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Despite significant methodological advances in protein structure determination high-resolution structures of membrane proteins are still rare, leaving sequence-based predictions as the only option for exploring the structural variability of membrane proteins at large scale. Here, a new structural classification approach for α-helical membrane proteins is introduced based on the similarity of predicted helix interaction patterns. Its application to proteins with known 3D structure showed that it is able to reliably detect structurally similar proteins even in the absence of any sequence similarity, reproducing the SCOP and CATH classifications with a sensitivity of 65% at a specificity of 90%. We applied the new approach to enhance our comprehensive structural classification of α-helical membrane proteins CAMPS, which is primarily based on sequence and topology similarity, in order to find protein clusters that describe the same fold in the absence of sequence similarity. The total of 151 helix architectures were delineated for proteins with more than four transmembrane segments. Interestingly, we observed that proteins with 8 and more transmembrane helices correspond to fewer different architectures than proteins with up to 7 helices, suggesting that in large membrane proteins the evolutionary tendency to re-use already available folds is more pronounced.

Autor: Sindy Neumann, Angelika Fuchs, Barbara Hummel, Dmitrij Frishman



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