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models of proteins have been widely used as a practical means to computationally investigate general properties of the system. In lattice models any sterically feasible conformation is represented as a self-avoiding walk on a lattice, and residue types are limited in number. So far, only two- or three-dimensional lattices have been used. The inspection of the neighborhood of alpha carbons in the core of real proteins reveals that also lattices with higher coordination numbers, possibly in higher dimensional spaces, can be adopted. In this paper, a new general parametric lattice model for simplified protein conformations is proposed and investigated. It is shown how the supporting software can be consistently designed to let algorithms that operate on protein structures be implemented in a lattice-agnostic way. The necessary theoretical foundations are developed and organically presented, pinpointing the role of the concept of main directions in lattice-agnostic model handling. Subsequently, the model features across dimensions and lattice types are explored in tests performed on benchmark protein sequences, using a Python implementation. Simulations give insights on the use of square and triangular lattices in a range of dimensions. The trend of potential minimum for sequences of different lengths, varying the lattice dimension, is uncovered. Moreover, an extensive quantitative characterization of the usage of the so-called "move types" is reported for the first time. The proposed general framework for the development of lattice models is simple yet complete, and an object-oriented architecture can be proficiently employed for the supporting software, by designing ad-hoc classes. The proposed framework represents a new general viewpoint that potentially subsumes a number of solutions previously studied. The adoption of the described model pushes to look at protein structure issues from a more general and essential perspective, making computational investigations over simplified models more straightforward as well.


Alessio Bechini. On the characterization and software implementation of general protein lattice models. PloS one. 2013;8(3):e59504

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PMID: 23555684

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