Background: The prediction of biochemical function from the 3D structure of a protein has proved to be much more difficult than was originally foreseen. A reliable method to test the likelihood of putative annotations and to predict function from structure would add tremendous value to structural genomics data. We report on a new method, Structurally Aligned Local Sites of Activity (SALSA), for the prediction of biochemical function based on a local structural match at the predicted catalytic or binding site.Results: Implementation of the SALSA method is described. For the structural genomics protein PY01515 (PDB ID 2aqw) from Plasmodium yoelii, it is shown that the putative annotation, Orotidine 5'-monophosphate decarboxylase (OMPDC), is most likely correct. SALSA analysis of YP_001304206.1 (PDB ID 3h3l), a putative sugar hydrolase from Parabacteroides distasonis, shows that its active site does not bear close resemblance to any previously characterized member of its superfamily, the Concanavalin A-like lectins/glucanases. It is noted that three residues in the active site of the thermophilic beta-1,4-xylanase from Nonomuraea flexuosa (PDB ID 1m4w), Y78, E87, and E176, overlap with POOL-predicted residues of similar type, Y168, D153, and E232, in YP_001304206.1. The substrate recognition regions of the two proteins are rather different, suggesting that YP_001304206.1 is a new functional type within the superfamily. A structural genomics protein from Mycobacterium avium (PDB ID 3q1t) has been reported to be an enoyl-CoA hydratase (ECH), but SALSA analysis shows a poor match between the predicted residues for the SG protein and those of known ECHs. A better local structural match is obtained with Anabaena beta-diketone hydrolase (ABDH), a known β-diketone hydrolase from Cyanobacterium anabaena (PDB ID 2j5s). This suggests that the reported ECH function of the SG protein is incorrect and that it is more likely a β-diketone hydrolase.Conclusions: A local site match provides a more compelling function prediction than that obtainable from a simple 3D structure match. The present method can confirm putative annotations, identify misannotation, and in some cases suggest a more probable annotation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The support of the NSF under grants number MCB-0843603 and MCB-1158176 is gratefully acknowledged. JSL is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.