Structural genomics aims to develop a catalogue of all naturally occurring protein structures and to elucidate the principles that govern the relationship between genes, protein structure, and protein function. In the March 4 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jingtong Hou and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, US, advance our understanding of these relationships by charting known protein folds in a technique that reveals the architecture and evolution of protein structure (PNAS, 100:2386-2390, March 4, 2003).

Hou et al. used a data set formed by the 498 most common folds recorded in SCOP (Structural Classification of Proteins) — a large online catalogue of protein structures. Proteins are defined as having a common fold if they have the same major secondary structures in the same arrangement and with the same topological connections. Pair-wise structural alignments of the selected folds were performed to measure the...

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