Received June 15, 2007
In the present study, a novel structural motif of proteins referred to as the phi-motif is considered, and two novel structural trees in which the phi-motif is taken as the root structure have been constructed. The simplest phi-motif is formed by three adjacent beta-strands connected by loops and packed in one beta-sheet so that its overall fold resembles the Greek letter phi. Construction of the structural trees and modeling of folding pathways have shown that all structures of the protein superfamilies can be obtained by stepwise addition of alpha-helices and/or beta-strands to the root phi-motif taking into account a restricted set of rules inferred from known principles of protein structure. The structural trees are a good tool for structure comparison, structural classification of proteins, as well as for searching for all possible protein folds and folding pathways.
KEY WORDS: protein structure similarity, classification, modeling, protein folding