Recent developments in PHENIX are reported that allow the use of reference-model torsion restraints, secondary-structure hydrogen-bond restraints and Ramachandran restraints for improved macromolecular refinement in phenix.refine at low resolution.
Traditional methods for macromolecular refinement often have limited success at low resolution (3.0–3.5 Å or worse), producing models that score poorly on crystallographic and geometric validation criteria. To improve low-resolution refinement, knowledge from macromolecular chemistry and homology was used to add three new coordinate-restraint functions to the refinement program phenix.refine. Firstly, a ‘reference-model’ method uses an identical or homologous higher resolution model to add restraints on torsion angles to the geometric target function. Secondly, automatic restraints for common secondary-structure elements in proteins and nucleic acids were implemented that can help to preserve the secondary-structure geometry, which is often distorted at low resolution. Lastly, we have implemented Ramachandran-based restraints on the backbone torsion angles. In this method, a ϕ,ψ term is added to the geometric target function to minimize a modified Ramachandran landscape that smoothly combines favorable peaks identified from nonredundant high-quality data with unfavorable peaks calculated using a clash-based pseudo-energy function. All three methods show improved MolProbity validation statistics, typically complemented by a lowered R
free and a decreased gap between R
work and R
macromolecular crystallography; low resolution; refinement; automation
The highly automated PHENIX AutoBuild wizard is described. The procedure can be applied equally well to phases derived from isomorphous/anomalous and molecular-replacement methods.
The PHENIX AutoBuild wizard is a highly automated tool for iterative model building, structure refinement and density modification using RESOLVE model building, RESOLVE statistical density modification and phenix.refine structure refinement. Recent advances in the AutoBuild wizard and phenix.refine include automated detection and application of NCS from models as they are built, extensive model-completion algorithms and automated solvent-molecule picking. Model-completion algorithms in the AutoBuild wizard include loop building, crossovers between chains in different models of a structure and side-chain optimization. The AutoBuild wizard has been applied to a set of 48 structures at resolutions ranging from 1.1 to 3.2 Å, resulting in a mean R factor of 0.24 and a mean free R factor of 0.29. The R factor of the final model is dependent on the quality of the starting electron density and is relatively independent of resolution.
model building; model completion; macromolecular models; Protein Data Bank; structure refinement; PHENIX
The solvent-picking procedure in phenix.refine has been extended and combined with Phaser anomalous substructure completion and analysis of coordination geometry to identify and place elemental ions.
Many macromolecular model-building and refinement programs can automatically place solvent atoms in electron density at moderate-to-high resolution. This process frequently builds water molecules in place of elemental ions, the identification of which must be performed manually. The solvent-picking algorithms in phenix.refine have been extended to build common ions based on an analysis of the chemical environment as well as physical properties such as occupancy, B factor and anomalous scattering. The method is most effective for heavier elements such as calcium and zinc, for which a majority of sites can be placed with few false positives in a diverse test set of structures. At atomic resolution, it is observed that it can also be possible to identify tightly bound sodium and magnesium ions. A number of challenges that contribute to the difficulty of completely automating the process of structure completion are discussed.
refinement; ions; PHENIX
Modelling deformation electron density using interatomic scatters is simpler than multipolar methods, produces comparable results at subatomic resolution and can easily be applied to macromolecules.
A study of the accurate electron-density distribution in molecular crystals at subatomic resolution (better than ∼1.0 Å) requires more detailed models than those based on independent spherical atoms. A tool that is conventionally used in small-molecule crystallography is the multipolar model. Even at upper resolution limits of 0.8–1.0 Å, the number of experimental data is insufficient for full multipolar model refinement. As an alternative, a simpler model composed of conventional independent spherical atoms augmented by additional scatterers to model bonding effects has been proposed. Refinement of these mixed models for several benchmark data sets gave results that were comparable in quality with the results of multipolar refinement and superior to those for conventional models. Applications to several data sets of both small molecules and macromolecules are shown. These refinements were performed using the general-purpose macromolecular refinement module phenix.refine of the PHENIX package.
structure refinement; subatomic resolution; deformation density; interatomic scatterers; PHENIX
X-ray crystallography is a critical tool in the study of biological systems. It is able to provide information that has been a prerequisite to understanding the fundamentals of life. It is also a method that is central to the development of new therapeutics for human disease. Significant time and effort are required to determine and optimize many macromolecular structures because of the need for manual interpretation of complex numerical data, often using many different software packages, and the repeated use of interactive three-dimensional graphics. The Phenix software package has been developed to provide a comprehensive system for macromolecular crystallographic structure solution with an emphasis on automation. This has required the development of new algorithms that minimize or eliminate subjective input in favour of built-in expert-systems knowledge, the automation of procedures that are traditionally performed by hand, and the development of a computational framework that allows a tight integration between the algorithms. The application of automated methods is particularly appropriate in the field of structural proteomics, where high throughput is desired. Features in Phenix for the automation of experimental phasing with subsequent model building, molecular replacement, structure refinement and validation are described and examples given of running Phenix from both the command line and graphical user interface.
Macromolecular Crystallography; Automation; Phenix; X-ray; Diffraction; Python
Flexible torsion angle-based NCS restraints have been implemented in phenix.refine, allowing improved model refinement at all resolutions. Rotamer correction and rotamer consistency checks between NCS-related amino-acid side chains further improve the final model quality.
One of the great challenges in refining macromolecular crystal structures is a low data-to-parameter ratio. Historically, knowledge from chemistry has been used to help to improve this ratio. When a macromolecule crystallizes with more than one copy in the asymmetric unit, the noncrystallographic symmetry relationships can be exploited to provide additional restraints when refining the working model. However, although globally similar, NCS-related chains often have local differences. To allow for local differences between NCS-related molecules, flexible torsion-based NCS restraints have been introduced, coupled with intelligent rotamer handling for protein chains, and are available in phenix.refine for refinement of models at all resolutions.
macromolecular crystallography; noncrystallographic symmetry; NCS; refinement; automation
DEN refinement and automated model building with AutoBuild were used to determine the structure of a putative succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase from C. glutamicum. This difficult case of molecular-replacement phasing shows that the synergism between DEN refinement and AutoBuild outperforms standard refinement protocols.
Phasing by molecular replacement remains difficult for targets that are far from the search model or in situations where the crystal diffracts only weakly or to low resolution. Here, the process of determining and refining the structure of Cgl1109, a putative succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase from Corynebacterium glutamicum, at ∼3 Å resolution is described using a combination of homology modeling with MODELLER, molecular-replacement phasing with Phaser, deformable elastic network (DEN) refinement and automated model building using AutoBuild in a semi-automated fashion, followed by final refinement cycles with phenix.refine and Coot. This difficult molecular-replacement case illustrates the power of including DEN restraints derived from a starting model to guide the movements of the model during refinement. The resulting improved model phases provide better starting points for automated model building and produce more significant difference peaks in anomalous difference Fourier maps to locate anomalous scatterers than does standard refinement. This example also illustrates a current limitation of automated procedures that require manual adjustment of local sequence misalignments between the homology model and the target sequence.
reciprocal-space refinement; DEN refinement; real-space refinement; automated model building; succinyl-diaminopimelate desuccinylase
A software system for automated protein–ligand crystallography has been implemented in the Phenix suite. This significantly reduces the manual effort required in high-throughput crystallographic studies.
High-throughput drug-discovery and mechanistic studies often require the determination of multiple related crystal structures that only differ in the bound ligands, point mutations in the protein sequence and minor conformational changes. If performed manually, solution and refinement requires extensive repetition of the same tasks for each structure. To accelerate this process and minimize manual effort, a pipeline encompassing all stages of ligand building and refinement, starting from integrated and scaled diffraction intensities, has been implemented in Phenix. The resulting system is able to successfully solve and refine large collections of structures in parallel without extensive user intervention prior to the final stages of model completion and validation.
protein–ligand complexes; automation; crystallographic structure solution and refinement
The implementation of crystallographic structure-refinement procedures that include both X-ray and neutron data (separate or jointly) in the PHENIX system is described.
Approximately 85% of the structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank have been solved using X-ray crystallography, making it the leading method for three-dimensional structure determination of macromolecules. One of the limitations of the method is that the typical data quality (resolution) does not allow the direct determination of H-atom positions. Most hydrogen positions can be inferred from the positions of other atoms and therefore can be readily included into the structure model as a priori knowledge. However, this may not be the case in biologically active sites of macromolecules, where the presence and position of hydrogen is crucial to the enzymatic mechanism. This makes the application of neutron crystallography in biology particularly important, as H atoms can be clearly located in experimental neutron scattering density maps. Without exception, when a neutron structure is determined the corresponding X-ray structure is also known, making it possible to derive the complete structure using both data sets. Here, the implementation of crystallographic structure-refinement procedures that include both X-ray and neutron data (separate or jointly) in the PHENIX system is described.
structure refinement; neutrons; joint X-ray and neutron refinement; PHENIX
Systematic investigation of a large number of trial rigid-body refinements leads to an optimized multiple-zone protocol with a larger convergence radius.
Rigid-body refinement is the constrained coordinate refinement of one or more groups of atoms that each move (rotate and translate) as a single body. The goal of this work was to establish an automatic procedure for rigid-body refinement which implements a practical compromise between runtime requirements and convergence radius. This has been achieved by analysis of a large number of trial refinements for 12 classes of random rigid-body displacements (that differ in magnitude of introduced errors), using both least-squares and maximum-likelihood target functions. The results of these tests led to a multiple-zone protocol. The final parameterization of this protocol was optimized empirically on the basis of a second large set of test refinements. This multiple-zone protocol is implemented as part of the phenix.refine program.
rigid-body refinement; multiple-zone protocols
Ten measures of experimental electron-density-map quality are examined and the skewness of electron density is found to be the best indicator of actual map quality. A Bayesian approach to estimating map quality is developed and used in the PHENIX AutoSol wizard to make decisions during automated structure solution.
Estimates of the quality of experimental maps are important in many stages of structure determination of macromolecules. Map quality is defined here as the correlation between a map and the corresponding map obtained using phases from the final refined model. Here, ten different measures of experimental map quality were examined using a set of 1359 maps calculated by re-analysis of 246 solved MAD, SAD and MIR data sets. A simple Bayesian approach to estimation of map quality from one or more measures is presented. It was found that a Bayesian estimator based on the skewness of the density values in an electron-density map is the most accurate of the ten individual Bayesian estimators of map quality examined, with a correlation between estimated and actual map quality of 0.90. A combination of the skewness of electron density with the local correlation of r.m.s. density gives a further improvement in estimating map quality, with an overall correlation coefficient of 0.92. The PHENIX AutoSol wizard carries out automated structure solution based on any combination of SAD, MAD, SIR or MIR data sets. The wizard is based on tools from the PHENIX package and uses the Bayesian estimates of map quality described here to choose the highest quality solutions after experimental phasing.
structure solution; scoring; Protein Data Bank; phasing; decision-making; PHENIX; experimental electron-density maps
A procedure for model building is described that combines morphing a model to match a density map, trimming the morphed model and aligning the model to a sequence.
A procedure termed ‘morphing’ for improving a model after it has been placed in the crystallographic cell by molecular replacement has recently been developed. Morphing consists of applying a smooth deformation to a model to make it match an electron-density map more closely. Morphing does not change the identities of the residues in the chain, only their coordinates. Consequently, if the true structure differs from the working model by containing different residues, these differences cannot be corrected by morphing. Here, a procedure that helps to address this limitation is described. The goal of the procedure is to obtain a relatively complete model that has accurate main-chain atomic positions and residues that are correctly assigned to the sequence. Residues in a morphed model that do not match the electron-density map are removed. Each segment of the resulting trimmed morphed model is then assigned to the sequence of the molecule using information about the connectivity of the chains from the working model and from connections that can be identified from the electron-density map. The procedure was tested by application to a recently determined structure at a resolution of 3.2 Å and was found to increase the number of correctly identified residues in this structure from the 88 obtained using phenix.resolve sequence assignment alone (Terwilliger, 2003 ▶) to 247 of a possible 359. Additionally, the procedure was tested by application to a series of templates with sequence identities to a target structure ranging between 7 and 36%. The mean fraction of correctly identified residues in these cases was increased from 33% using phenix.resolve sequence assignment to 47% using the current procedure. The procedure is simple to apply and is available in the Phenix software package.
morphing; model building; sequence assignment; model–map correlation; loop-building
The combination of algorithms from the structure-modeling field with those of crystallographic structure determination can broaden the range of templates that are useful for structure determination by the method of molecular replacement. Automated tools in phenix.mr_rosetta simplify the application of these combined approaches by integrating Phenix crystallographic algorithms and Rosetta structure-modeling algorithms and by systematically generating and evaluating models with a combination of these methods. The phenix.mr_rosetta algorithms can be used to automatically determine challenging structures. The approaches used in phenix.mr_rosetta are described along with examples that show roles that structure-modeling can play in molecular replacement.
Molecular replacement; Automation; Macromolecular crystallography; Rosetta; Phenix
The side-chain torsion angles of isoleucines in X-ray protein structures are a function of resolution, secondary structure and refinement software. Detailing the standard torsion angles used in refinement software can improve protein structure refinement.
A study of isoleucines in protein structures solved using X-ray crystallography revealed a series of systematic trends for the two side-chain torsion angles χ1 and χ2 dependent on the resolution, secondary structure and refinement software used. The average torsion angles for the nine rotamers were similar in high-resolution structures solved using either the REFMAC, CNS or PHENIX software. However, at low resolution these programs often refine towards somewhat different χ1 and χ2 values. Small systematic differences can be observed between refinement software that uses molecular dynamics-type energy terms (for example CNS) and software that does not use these terms (for example REFMAC). Detailing the standard torsion angles used in refinement software can improve the refinement of protein structures. The target values in the molecular dynamics-type energy functions can also be improved.
The general principles behind the macromolecular crystal structure refinement program REFMAC5 are described.
This paper describes various components of the macromolecular crystallographic refinement program REFMAC5, which is distributed as part of the CCP4 suite. REFMAC5 utilizes different likelihood functions depending on the diffraction data employed (amplitudes or intensities), the presence of twinning and the availability of SAD/SIRAS experimental diffraction data. To ensure chemical and structural integrity of the refined model, REFMAC5 offers several classes of restraints and choices of model parameterization. Reliable models at resolutions at least as low as 4 Å can be achieved thanks to low-resolution refinement tools such as secondary-structure restraints, restraints to known homologous structures, automatic global and local NCS restraints, ‘jelly-body’ restraints and the use of novel long-range restraints on atomic displacement parameters (ADPs) based on the Kullback–Leibler divergence. REFMAC5 additionally offers TLS parameterization and, when high-resolution data are available, fast refinement of anisotropic ADPs. Refinement in the presence of twinning is performed in a fully automated fashion. REFMAC5 is a flexible and highly optimized refinement package that is ideally suited for refinement across the entire resolution spectrum encountered in macromolecular crystallography.
A new module, Guided Ligand Replacement (GLR), has been developed in Phenix to increase the ease and success rate of ligand placement when prior protein-ligand complexes are available.
The process of iterative structure-based drug design involves the X-ray crystal structure determination of upwards of 100 ligands with the same general scaffold (i.e. chemotype) complexed with very similar, if not identical, protein targets. In conjunction with insights from computational models and assays, this collection of crystal structures is analyzed to improve potency, to achieve better selectivity and to reduce liabilities such as absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicology. Current methods for modeling ligands into electron-density maps typically do not utilize information on how similar ligands bound in related structures. Even if the electron density is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow de novo placement, the process can take considerable time as the size, complexity and torsional degrees of freedom of the ligands increase. A new module, Guided Ligand Replacement (GLR), was developed in Phenix to increase the ease and success rate of ligand placement when prior protein–ligand complexes are available. At the heart of GLR is an algorithm based on graph theory that associates atoms in the target ligand with analogous atoms in the reference ligand. Based on this correspondence, a set of coordinates is generated for the target ligand. GLR is especially useful in two situations: (i) modeling a series of large, flexible, complicated or macrocyclic ligands in successive structures and (ii) modeling ligands as part of a refinement pipeline that can automatically select a reference structure. Even in those cases for which no reference structure is available, if there are multiple copies of the bound ligand per asymmetric unit GLR offers an efficient way to complete the model after the first ligand has been placed. In all of these applications, GLR leverages prior knowledge from earlier structures to facilitate ligand placement in the current structure.
ligand placement; guided ligand-replacement method; GLR
The title compound, C23H26F2N2O4, is a dipeptidic inhibitor of γ-secretase, one of the enzymes involved in Alzheimer’s disease. The molecule adopts a compact conformation, without intramolecular hydrogen bonds. In the crystal structure, one of the amide N atoms forms the only intermolecular N—H⋯O hydrogen bond; the second amide N atom does not form hydrogen bonds. High-resolution synchrotron diffraction data permitted the unequivocal location and refinement without restraints of all H atoms, and the identification of the characteristic shift of the amide H atom engaged in the hydrogen bond from its ideal position, resulting in a more linear hydrogen bond. Significant residual densities for bonding electrons were revealed after the usual SHELXL refinement, and modeling of these features as additional interatomic scatterers (IAS) using the program PHENIX led to a significant decrease in the R factor from 0.0411 to 0.0325 and diminished the r.m.s. deviation level of noise in the final difference Fourier map from 0.063 to 0.037 e Å−3.
Three-dimensional RNA models fitted into crystallographic density maps exhibit pervasive conformational ambiguities, geometric errors, and steric clashes. To address these problems, we present Enumerative Real-space Refinement ASsisted by Electron density under Rosetta (ERRASER), coupled to PHENIX (Python-based Hierarchical Environment for Integrated Xtallography) diffraction-based refinement. On 24 datasets, ERRASER automatically corrects the majority of MolProbity-assessed errors, improves average Rfree factor, resolves functionally important discrepancies in non-canonical structure, and refines low-resolution models to better match higher resolution models.
The crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis at 1.25 Å resolution of free-ligand arginine kinase from the Pacific whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei are reported. Crystals belong to space group P212121, phases were determined by molecular replacement and refinement was performed with Phenix.
Crystals of an unligated monomeric arginine kinase from the Pacific whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei (LvAK) were successfully obtained using the microbatch method. Crystallization conditions and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis to 1.25 Å resolution are reported. Data were collected at 100 K on NSLS beamline X6A. The crystals belonged to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 56.5, b = 70.2, c = 81.7 Å. One monomer per asymmetric unit was found, with a Matthews coefficient (V
M) of 2.05 Å3 Da−1 and 40% solvent content. Initial phases were determined by molecular replacement using a homology model of LvAK as the search model. Refinement was performed with PHENIX, with final R
work and R
free values of 0.15 and 0.19, respectively. Biological analysis of the structure is currently in progress.
arginine kinases; Litopenaeus vannamei
A fast analytical method for calculating mask-based bulk-solvent scale factors and overall anisotropic correction factors is introduced.
A fast and robust method for determining the parameters for a flat (mask-based) bulk-solvent model and overall scaling in macromolecular crystallographic structure refinement and other related calculations is described. This method uses analytical expressions for the determination of optimal values for various scale factors. The new approach was tested using nearly all entries in the PDB for which experimental structure factors are available. In general, the resulting R factors are improved compared with previously implemented approaches. In addition, the new procedure is two orders of magnitude faster, which has a significant impact on the overall runtime of refinement and other applications. An alternative function is also proposed for scaling the bulk-solvent model and it is shown that it outperforms the conventional exponential function. Similarly, alternative methods are presented for anisotropic scaling and their performance is analyzed. All methods are implemented in the Computational Crystallography Toolbox (cctbx) and are used in PHENIX programs.
bulk solvent; scaling; anisotropy; structure refinement; PHENIX
The PHENIX software for macromolecular structure determination is described.
Macromolecular X-ray crystallography is routinely applied to understand biological processes at a molecular level. However, significant time and effort are still required to solve and complete many of these structures because of the need for manual interpretation of complex numerical data using many software packages and the repeated use of interactive three-dimensional graphics. PHENIX has been developed to provide a comprehensive system for macromolecular crystallographic structure solution with an emphasis on the automation of all procedures. This has relied on the development of algorithms that minimize or eliminate subjective input, the development of algorithms that automate procedures that are traditionally performed by hand and, finally, the development of a framework that allows a tight integration between the algorithms.
PHENIX; Python; macromolecular crystallography; algorithms
Application of phenix.model_vs_data to the contents of the Protein Data Bank shows that the vast majority of deposited structures can be automatically analyzed to reproduce the reported quality statistics. However, the small fraction of structures that elude automated re-analysis highlight areas where new software developments can help retain valuable information for future analysis.
phenix.model_vs_data is a high-level command-line tool for the computation of crystallographic model and data statistics, and the evaluation of the fit of the model to data. Analysis of all Protein Data Bank structures that have experimental data available shows that in most cases the reported statistics, in particular R factors, can be reproduced within a few percentage points. However, there are a number of outliers where the recomputed R values are significantly different from those originally reported. The reasons for these discrepancies are discussed.
PHENIX; Protein Data Bank; data quality; model quality; structure validation; R factors
Recombinant AciX9_0562 from Acidobacterium sp. MP5ACTX9 containing sequence motifs characteristic of the RmlC-type cupins superfamily and containing Pfam motif PF07883 has been successfully cloned, expressed and purified, and crystallized in a number of conditions from the Morpheus protein crystallization screen.
Recombinant AciX9_0562 from Acidobacterium sp. MP5ACTX9 (UniProt ID E8WYN5) containing sequence motifs characteristic of the RmlC-type cupins superfamily and containing Pfam motif PF07883 has been successfully cloned, expressed and purified. AciX9_0562 crystallized in a number of conditions from the Morpheus protein crystallization screen. The best crystal diffracted to 2.7 Å resolution (space group C2221; unit-cell parameters a = 125.29, b = 254.63, c = 82.99 Å). Structure solution was facilitated by the automated molecular-replacement pipeline BALBES. The initial solution was automatically rebuilt using the PHENIX AutoBuild wizard, with final R and R
free values of 0.23 and 0.26, respectively. The structure is currently undergoing manual refinement.
cupins; AciX9_0562; Acidobacterium sp. MP5ACTX9
An evaluation of validation and real-space intervention possibilities for improving existing automated (re-)refinement methods.
The deposition of X-ray data along with the customary structural models defining PDB entries makes it possible to apply large-scale re-refinement protocols to these entries, thus giving users the benefit of improvements in X-ray methods that have occurred since the structure was deposited. Automated gradient refinement is an effective method to achieve this goal, but real-space intervention is most often required in order to adequately address problems detected by structure-validation software. In order to improve the existing protocol, automated re-refinement was combined with structure validation and difference-density peak analysis to produce a catalogue of problems in PDB entries that are amenable to automatic correction. It is shown that re-refinement can be effective in producing improvements, which are often associated with the systematic use of the TLS parameterization of B factors, even for relatively new and high-resolution PDB entries, while the accompanying manual or semi-manual map analysis and fitting steps show good prospects for eventual automation. It is proposed that the potential for simultaneous improvements in methods and in re-refinement results be further encouraged by broadening the scope of depositions to include refinement metadata and ultimately primary rather than reduced X-ray data.
A stereochemical library which defines the target values for main-chain bond lengths and angles as a function of the residue’s ϕ/ψ angles was tested in refinement. Use of this library allows the construction of models that conform to ideal geometry much better than previous libraries without degrading their fit to the diffraction data.
The major macromolecular crystallographic refinement packages restrain models to ideal geometry targets defined as single values that are independent of molecular conformation. However, ultrahigh-resolution X-ray models of proteins are not consistent with this concept of ideality and have been used to develop a library of ideal main-chain bond lengths and angles that are parameterized by the ϕ/ψ angle of the residue [Berkholz et al. (2009 ▶), Structure, 17, 1316–1325]. Here, it is first shown that the new conformation-dependent library does not suffer from poor agreement with ultrahigh-resolution structures, whereas current libraries have this problem. Using the TNT refinement package, it is then shown that protein structure refinement using this conformation-dependent library results in models that have much better agreement with library values of bond angles with little change in the R values. These tests support the value of revising refinement software to account for this new paradigm.
conformation-dependent stereochemical library; refinement; ideal geometry; restraints