• active sites matching;
  • enzyme design;
  • target-binding protein design;
  • backbone flexibility;
  • active site recapitulation


Proteins perform their functions mainly via active sites, whereas other parts of the proteins comprise the scaffolds, which support the active sites. One strategy for protein functional design is transplanting active sites, such as catalytic sites for enzyme or binding hot spots for protein–protein interactions, onto a new scaffold. AutoMatch is a new program designed for efficiently elucidating suitable scaffolds and potential sites on the scaffolds. Backrub motions are used to treat backbone flexibility during the design process. A step-by-step checking strategy and cluster-representation examination strategy were developed to solve the large combinatorial problem for the matching of active-site conformations. In addition, a grid-based binding energy scoring method was used to filter the solutions. An enzyme design benchmark and a protein–protein interaction design benchmark were built to test the algorithm. AutoMatch could identify the hot spots in the nonbinding protein and rank them within the top five results for 8 of 10 target-binding protein design cases. In addition, among the 15 enzymes tested, AutoMatch can identify the catalytic active sites in the apoprotein and rank them within the top five results for 13 cases. AutoMatch was also tested for screening scaffold library in designing binding proteins targeting influenza hemagglutinin, HIV gp120, and epidermal growth factor receptor kinase, respectively. AutoMatch, and the two test sets, ActApo and ActFree, are available for noncommercial applications at Proteins 2012; © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.