AlphaFold Protein Structure Database for Sequence-Independent Molecular Replacement


Crystallographic phasing recovers the phase information that is lost during a diffraction experiment. Molecular replacement is a dominant phasing method for the crystal structures in the protein data bank. In one form it uses a protein sequence to search a structure database for finding suitable templates for phasing. However, such sequence information is not always available such as when proteins are crystallized with unknown binding partner proteins or when the crystal is that of a contaminant. The recent development of AlphaFold has resulted in the availability of predicted protein structures for all proteins from twenty species. In this work, we tested whether AlphaFold-predicted E. coli protein structures were accurate enough for sequence-independent phasing of diffraction data from two crystallization contaminants for which we had not identified the protein. Using each of more than 4000 predicted structures as a search model, robust molecular replacement solutions were obtained which allowed the identification and structure determination of both structures, YncE and YadF. Our results advocate a general utility of AlphaFold-predicted structure database with respect to crystallographic phasing.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

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