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Bioinformatics Advances, 1(2), 2022

DOI: 10.1093/bioadv/vbab043



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Folding the unfoldable: using AlphaFold to explore spurious proteins

Journal article published in 2022 by Vivian Monzon, Daniel H. Haft, Alex Bateman ORCID
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


Abstract Motivation The release of AlphaFold 2.0 has revolutionized our ability to determine protein structures from sequences. This tool also inadvertently opens up many unanticipated opportunities. In this article, we investigate the AntiFam resource, which contains 250 protein sequence families that we believe to be spurious protein translations. We would not expect proteins belonging to these families to fold into well-ordered globular structures. To test this hypothesis, we have attempted to computationally determine the structure of a representative sequence from all AntiFam 6.0 families. Results Although the large majority of families showed no evidence of globular structure, we have identified one example for which a globular structure is predicted. Proteins in this AntiFam entry indeed seem likely to be bona fide proteins, based on additional considerations, and thus AlphaFold provides a useful quality control for the AntiFam database. Conversely, known spurious proteins offer useful set of quality controls for AlphaFold. We have identified a trend that the mean structure prediction confidence score pLDDT is higher for shorter sequences. Of the 131 AntiFam representative sequences <100 amino acids in length, AlphaFold predicts a mean pLDDT of 80 or greater for six of them. Thus, particular care should be taken when applying AlphaFold to short protein sequences. Availability and implementation The AlphaFold predictions for representative sequences can be found at the following URL: Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics Advances online.