Investigation of Protein Quaternary Structure via Stoichiometry and Symmetry Information


The Protein Data Bank (PDB) is the single worldwide archive of experimentally-determined three-dimensional (3D) structures of proteins and nucleic acids. As of January 2017, the PDB housed more than 125,000 structures and was growing by more than 11,000 structures annually. Since the 3D structure of a protein is vital to understand the mechanisms of biological processes, diseases, and drug design, correct oligomeric assembly information is of critical importance. Unfortunately, the biologically relevant oligomeric form of a 3D structure is not directly obtainable by X-ray crystallography, whilst in solution methods (NMR or single particle EM) it is known from the experiment. Instead, this information may be provided by the PDB Depositor as metadata coming from additional experiments, be inferred by sequence-sequence comparisons with similar proteins of known oligomeric state, or predicted using software, such as PISA (Proteins, Interfaces, Structures and Assemblies) or EPPIC (Evolutionary Protein Protein Interface Classifier). Despite significant efforts by professional PDB Biocurators during data deposition, there remain a number of structures in the archive with incorrect quaternary structure descriptions (or annotations). Further investigation is, therefore, needed to evaluate the correctness of quaternary structure annotations. In this study, we aim to identify the most probable oligomeric states for proteins represented in the PDB. Our approach evaluated the performance of four independent prediction methods, including text mining of primary publications, inference from homologous protein structures, and two computational methods (PISA and EPPIC). Aggregating predictions to give consensus results outperformed all four of the independent prediction methods, yielding 86% correct, 9% incorrect, and 5% inconclusive predictions, when tested with a well-curated benchmark dataset. We have developed a freely-available web-based tool to make this approach accessible to researchers and PDB Biocurators (

PLoS ONE 13(6): e0197176

Full Citation: Korkmaz S, Duarte JM, Prlić A, Goksuluk D, Zararsiz G, Saracbasi O, et al. (2018) Investigation of protein quaternary structure via stoichiometry and symmetry ınformation. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0197176.