The ConSurf-HSSP database: The mapping of evolutionary conservation among homologs onto PDB structures

Fabian Glaser, Yossi Rosenberg, Amit Kessel, Tal Pupko, Nir Ben-Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The HSSP (Homology-Derived Secondary Structure of Proteins) database provides multiple sequence alignments (MSAs) for proteins of known three-dimensional (3D) structure in the Protein Data Bank (PDB). The database also contains an estimate of the degree of evolutionary conservation at each amino acid position. This estimate, which is based on the relative entropy, correlates with the functional importance of the position; evolutionarily conserved positions (i.e., positions with limited variability and low entropy) are occasionally important to maintain the 3D structure and biological function(s) of the protein. We recently developed the Rate4Site algorithm for scoring amino acid conservation based on their calculated evolutionary rate. This algorithm takes into account the phylogenetic relationships between the homologs and the stochastic nature of the evolutionary process. Here we present the ConSurf-HSSP database of Rate4Site estimates of the evolutionary rates of the amino acid positions, calculated using HSSP's MSAs. The database provides precalculated evolutionary rates for nearly all of the PDB. These rates are projected, using a color code, onto the protein structure, and can be viewed online using the ConSurf server interface. To exemplify the database, we analyzed in detail the conservation pattern obtained for pyruvate kinase and compared the results with those observed using the relative entropy scores of the HSSP database. It is reassuring to know that the main functional region of the enzyme is detectable using both conservation scores. Interestingly, the ConSurf-HSSP calculations mapped additional functionally important regions, which are moderately conserved and were overlooked by the original HSSP estimate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-617
Number of pages8
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2005


  • Amino acid conservation
  • ConSurf
  • Evolutionary rate
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein evolution
  • Pyruvate kinase
  • Rate4Site


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