Pokefind: a novel topological filter for use with protein structure prediction

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Our focus has been on detecting topological properties that are rare in real proteins, but occur more frequently in models generated by protein structure prediction methods such as Rosetta. We previously created the Knotfind algorithm, successfully decreasing the frequency of knotted Rosetta models during CASP6. We observed an additional class of knot-like loops that appeared to be equally un-protein-like and yet do not contain a mathematical knot. These topological features are commonly referred to as slip-knots and are caused by the same mechanisms that result in knotted models. Slip-knots are undetectable by the original Knotfind algorithm. We have generalized our algorithm to detect them, and analyzed CASP6 models built using the Rosetta loop modeling method.


After analyzing known protein structures in the PDB, we found that slip-knots do occur in certain proteins, but are rare and fall into a small number of specific classes. Our group used this new Pokefind algorithm to distinguish between these rare real slip-knots and the numerous classes of slip-knots that we discovered in Rosetta models and models submitted by the various CASP7 servers. The goal of this work is to improve future models created by protein structure prediction methods. Both algorithms are able to detect un-protein-like features that current metrics such as GDT are unable to identify, so these topological filters can also be used as additional assessment tools.

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