Journal of Biomolecular NMR

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 221–239 | Cite as

Automated error-tolerant macromolecular structure determination from multidimensional nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectra and chemical shift assignments: improved robustness and performance of the PASD algorithm

  • John J. Kuszewski
  • Robin Augustine Thottungal
  • G. Marius CloreEmail author
  • Charles D. SchwietersEmail author


We report substantial improvements to the previously introduced automated NOE assignment and structure determination protocol known as PASD (Kuszewski et al. (2004) J Am Chem Soc 26:6258–6273). The improved protocol includes extensive analysis of input spectral data to create a low-resolution contact map of residues expected to be close in space. This map is used to obtain reasonable initial guesses of NOE assignment likelihoods which are refined during subsequent structure calculations. Information in the contact map about which residues are predicted to not be close in space is applied via conservative repulsive distance restraints which are used in early phases of the structure calculations. In comparison with the previous protocol, the new protocol requires significantly less computation time. We show results of running the new PASD protocol on six proteins and demonstrate that useful assignment and structural information is extracted on proteins of more than 220 residues. We show that useful assignment information can be obtained even in the case in which a unique structure cannot be determined.


Automated structure determination Automated NOE assignment Xplor-NIH 



This work was supported by the CIT (to CDS) and NIDDK (to GMC) Intramural Research Programs of the NIH.

Glossary of terms and symbols

Active assignment

An NOE assignment which contributes to the linear (Pass 1) or quadratic (Pass 2) restraint terms. Whether an assignment is active or inactive is determined from its assignment likelihoods via the procedure described in Section “Determination of active peak assignments”.

Active peak

An NOE peak with one or more active assignments.

Assignment likelihood λ(i,j)

The probability of the correctness of assignment j of peak i. λ p is the previous likelihood of an assignment based on previously obtained information; in Pass 1 λ p is denoted \(\lambda_p^n\) and is based on the network contact map, while in Pass 2 previous likelihoods \(\lambda_p^v\) are based on distance violations of the structures calculated in Pass 1. The violation likelihood λ v is the probability of correctness of an assignment based on distance violations in the current structure. The overall peak assignment likelihood λ o is a weighted average of previous and violation likelihoods. The assignment likelihood λ a is used to determine which single assignment to use for a given peak during Pass 2.

Broad tolerance ΔB

The size of chemical shift bins used in the initial assignment procedure. [Section “Shift assignment stripe correction”]

Calibration peak

NOE peaks corresponding to intraresidue or backbone sequential connectivities, used for stripe correction and network analysis. [Section “Shift assignment stripe correction”]

Characteristic violation distance Δrc

Distance used in determining assignment likelihood λ v . Smaller values reduce the likelihood of assignments with large violations. [Eq. 13]

Linear NOE potential Elin

Energy term used in Pass 1 which is linear in NOE violation. [Eq. 6]

Network score R(a,b)

The residue pair score between residues a and b, based on connectivities deduced from the initial collection of possible NOE assignments. R′(a,b) is the normalized score used for assigning initial likelihoods; associated assignments are specified as active for R′ > R c . Larger R′ corresponds to a larger number of connections. [Eqs. 1 and 2]

Peak assignment

A specific NOE peak assignment relating a single peak to a pair of assigned chemical shifts.

Previous likelihood weight wp

Weight determining the contribution of λ p and λ v to λ o . [Eq. 14]

Quadratic NOE potential Equad

Energy term used in Pass 2 which is quadratic in NOE violation. [Eq. 10]

Repulsive distance potential Erepul

Energy term used in Pass 1 which repels atoms associated with shift assignments which are inactive. [Eq. 11]

Stripe coverage C

The fraction of calibration peaks consistent with a particular chemical shift assignment. [Section “Shift assignment stripe correction”]

Symmetry partners

Two NOE peaks with from- and to- assignments reversed.

Tight tolerance ΔT

The size of chemical shift bins used during peak assignment after the stripe correction procedure. [Section “Shift assignment stripe correction”]

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© US Government 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Imaging Sciences Laboratory, Center for Information TechnologyNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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