ProVal: A Protein-Scoring Function for the Selection of Native and Near-Native Folds

Anders Berglund, Richard D. Head, Eric A. Welsh, Garland R. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A low-resolution scoring function for the selection of native and near-native structures from a set of predicted structures for a given protein sequence has been developed. The scoring function, ProVal (Protein Validate), used several variables that describe an aspect of protein structure for which the proximity to the native structure can be assessed quantitatively. Among the parameters included are a packing estimate, surface areas, and the contact order. A partial least squares for latent variables (PLS) model was built for each candidate set of the 28 decoy sets of structures generated for 22 different proteins using the described parameters as independent variables. The Cα RMS of the candidate structures versus the experimental structure was used as the dependent variable. The final generalized scoring function was an average of all models derived, ensuring that the function was not optimized for specific fold classes or method of structure generation of the candidate folds. The results show that the crystal structure was scored best in 64% of the 28 test sets and was clearly separated from the decoys in many examples. In all the other cases in which the crystal structure did not rank first, it ranked within the top 10%. Thus, although ProVal could not distinguish between predicted structures that were similar overall in fold quality due to its inherently low resolution, it can clearly be used as a primary filter to eliminate ∼90% of fold candidates generated by current prediction methods from all-atom modeling and further evaluation. The correlation between the predicted and actual Cα RMS values varies considerably between the candidate fold sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-302
Number of pages14
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004


  • Empirical scoring function
  • PLS
  • Partial least squares
  • Protein folding
  • Structure prediction


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