Proteins are the building blocks of life. By carrying out the functionality encoded by genes, proteins play an important role in every process one can imagine -- from digesting food to fighting diseases. A protein is made of monomers called amino acids. This sequence of amino acids is commonly referred to as a protein’s primary structure. In a cell a protein chain folds up into a three-dimensional (3D) structure. The three-dimensional structure of a protein (i.e. the coordinates of all of its atoms) uniquely determines its function. Because the protein structure and its function are closely related, scientists in both academia and industry are investing enormous time and resources to understanding the 3-dimensional structure of proteins. Due to the cost and difficulty of experimental methods (X-ray crystallography), computational methods of predicting protein structure are being increasingly relied upon.
The focus of our research is to develop improved comparative modeling methods for computational protein structure determination from the sequence of amino acids. We rely on a growing body of structural information deposited in the protein databases to develop an explicit analytical approach to protein structure determination.