Dead-end elimination with backbone flexibility.


Dead-End Elimination (DEE) is a powerful algorithm capable of reducing the search space for structure-based protein design by a combinatorial factor. By using a fixed backbone template, a rotamer library, and a potential energy function, DEE identifies and prunes rotamer choices that are provably not part of the Global Minimum Energy Conformation (GMEC), effectively eliminating the majority of the conformations that must be subsequently enumerated to obtain the GMEC. Since a fixed-backbone model biases the algorithm predictions against protein sequences for which even small backbone movements may result in a significantly enhanced stability, the incorporation of backbone flexibility can improve the accuracy of the design predictions. If explicit backbone flexibility is incorporated into the model, however, the traditional DEE criteria can no longer guarantee that the flexible-backbone GMEC, the lowest-energy conformation when the backbone is allowed to flex, will not be pruned.