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The detection of ligand-binding sites is often the starting point for protein function identification and drug discovery. Because of inaccuracies in predicted protein structures, extant binding pocketdetection methods are limited to experimentally solved structures. Here, FINDSITE, a method for ligand-binding site prediction and functional annotation based on binding-site similarity across groups of weakly homologous template structures identified from threading, is described. For crystal structures, considering a cutoff distance of 4 Å as the hit criterion, the success rate is 70.9% for identifying the best of top five predicted ligand-binding sites with a ranking accuracy of 76.0%. Both high prediction accuracy and ability to correctly rank identified binding sites are sustained when approximate protein models (<35% sequence identity to the closest template structure) are used, showing a 67.3% success rate with 75.5% ranking accuracy. In practice, FINDSITE tolerates structural inaccuracies in protein models up to a rmsd from the crystal structure of 8-10 Å. This is because analysis of weakly homologous protein models reveals that about half have a rmsd from the native binding site <2 Å. Furthermore, the chemical properties of template-bound ligands can be used to select ligand templates associated with the binding site. In most cases, FINDSITE can accurately assign a molecular function to the protein model. © 2007 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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