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Abstract

Subgraph isomorphism and maximum common subgraph isomorphism algorithms from graph theory provide an effective and an efficient way of identifying structural relationships between biological macromolecules. They thus provide a natural complement to the pattern matching algorithms that are used in bioinformatics to identify sequence relationships. Examples are provided of the use of graph theory to analyze proteins for which three-dimensional crystallographic or NMR structures are available, focusing on the use of the Bron-Kerbosch clique detection algorithm to identify common folding motifs and of the Ullmann subgraph isomorphism algorithm to identify patterns of amino acid residues. Our methods are also applicable to other types of biological macromolecule, such as carbohydrate and nucleic acid structures.