Predicting calcium-binding sites in proteins - a graph theory and geometry approach.


Identifying calcium-binding sites in proteins is one of the first steps towards predicting and understanding the role of calcium in biological systems for protein structure and function studies. Due to the complexity and irregularity of calcium-binding sites, a fast and accurate method for predicting and identifying calcium-binding protein is needed. Here we report our development of a new fast algorithm (GG) to detect calcium-binding sites. The GG algorithm uses a graph theory algorithm to find oxygen clusters of the protein and a geometric algorithm to identify the center of these clusters. A cluster of four or more oxygen atoms has a high potential for calcium binding. High performance with about 90% site sensitivity and 80% site selectivity has been obtained for three datasets containing a total of 123 proteins. The results suggest that a sphere of a certain size with four or more oxygen atoms on the surface and without other atoms inside is necessary and sufficient for quickly identifying the majority of the calcium-binding sites with high accuracy. Our finding opens a new avenue to visualize and analyze calcium-binding sites in proteins facilitating the prediction of functions from structural genomic information.

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