Factors influencing accuracy of computer-built models: a study based on leucine zipper GCN4 structure.Biophys J. 1996 Mar; 70(3):1096-104.BJ
A three-dimensional model of the leucine zipper GCN4 built from its amino acid sequence had been reported previously by us. When the two alternative x-ray structures of the GCN4 dimer became available, the root mean square (r.m.s.) shifts between our model and the structures were determined as approximately 2.7 A on all atoms. These values are similar to the r.m.s. shift of 2.8 A between the two GCN4 structures in the different crystal forms (C2 and P2(1)2(1)2(1)). CONGEN conformational searches were run to better understand the conditions that may determine the preference of different conformers in different environments and to test the sensitivity of our current modeling techniques. With a judicious choice of CONGEN search parameters, the backbone r.m.s. deviation improved to 0.8 A and 2.5 A on all atoms. The side-chain conformations of Val and Leu at the helical interface were well reproduced (1.2 A r.m.s.), and the large side-chain misplacements occurred with only a small number of charged amino acids and a tyrosine. Inclusion of the crystal environment (C2 symmetry), as a passive background, into the side-chain conformational search further improved the accuracy of the model to an r.m.s. deviation of 2.1 A. Conformational searches carried out in the two different crystal environments and employing the AMBER protein/DNA forcefield, as implemented in CONGEN, gave the r.m.s. values of 2.2 A (for the C2 symmetry) and 2.5 A (for the P2(1)2(1)2(1) symmetry). In the C2 symmetry crystal, as much as 40% of the surface of each dimer was involved in crystal contacts with other dimers, and the charged residues on the surface often interacted with immobilized water molecules. Thus, occasional large r.m.s. deviations between the model and the x-ray side chains were due to specific conditions that did not occur in solution.