Weizmann Institute scientists win global competition in predicting protein-protein interactions

Rehovot, Israel June 24, 2002-- A team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science achieved the best result in the CAPRI (Critical Assessment of Prediction of Interactions) Challenge, an international competition in which participants submit predictions of structures of protein-protein complexes prior to experimental determination. The competitors were given three prediction targets, and sixteen teams from around the world submitted possible solutions. The Weizmann team, consisting of Dr. Miri Eisenstein of the Chemical Services Unit and her students Efrat Ben-Zeev, Alex Berchanski, Alex Heifetz and Boaz Shapira (also students of Prof. Ephraim Katzir in the Department of Biological Chemistry), was the only group to submit an acceptable prediction for each of the three targets. Dr. Eisenstein won a similar competition as part of a Weizmann Institute team six years ago.

Prediction of the structure of protein-protein complexes is an increasingly prominent field of endeavor in the current post-genome era, since new sequences and links between proteins are now regularly being discovered. "Docking" is a predictive method that uses computer algorithms to create three-dimensional models of the interactions formed between two protein molecules when they make contact, or "dock", with one another. The CAPRI Challenge, which requires that all competitors predict interactions for the same unbound molecules, provides a useful basis of comparison of different docking algorithms. The participants are given the structures of individual molecules and are requested to submit their predictions for the resulting complexes by a certain date, after which the experimental structures are made public. An independent group of assessors tests and compares all the predictions.

Predicting the ultimate complex structure of two unbound protein molecules is an exceptionally difficult task, since the proteins change their shapes in response to one another's presence

Contact: Jeffrey J. Sussman
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science

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