TCBG Seminar

ConSurf: An Algorithmic Tool for the Identification of Functional Regions in Proteins by Surface-Mapping of Phylogenetic Information

Professor Nir Ben-Tal
Department of Biochemistry
Tel-Aviv University

Wednesday, February 14, 2001
2:30 pm (CT)
3269 Beckman Institute


Experimental approaches for the identification of functionally important regions on the surface of a protein involve mutagenesis, in which exposed residues are replaced one after another while the change in binding to other proteins or changes in activity are recorded. However, practical considerations limit the use of these methods to small-scale studies, precluding a full mapping of all the functionally important residues on the surface of a protein. We present here an alternative approach involving the use of evolutionary data in the form of multiple-sequence alignment for a protein family to identify hot spots and surface patches that are likely to be in contact with other proteins, domains, peptides, DNA, RNA or ligands. The underlying assumption in this approach is that key residues that are important for binding should be conserved throughout evolution, just like residues that are crucial for maintaining the protein fold are, i.e., buried residues.

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