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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 838259, 7 pages
Research Article

ProBLM Web Server: Protein and Membrane Placement and Orientation Package

1Department of Computer Science, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
2Computational Biophysics and Bioinformatics, Department of Physics, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA

Received 8 April 2014; Revised 28 June 2014; Accepted 1 July 2014; Published 14 July 2014

Academic Editor: Andrzej Kloczkowski

Copyright © 2014 Taylor Kimmett et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The 3D structures of membrane proteins are typically determined without the presence of a lipid bilayer. For the purpose of studying the role of membranes on the wild type characteristics of the corresponding protein, determining the position and orientation of transmembrane proteins within a membrane environment is highly desirable. Here we report a geometry-based approach to automatically insert a membrane protein with a known 3D structure into pregenerated lipid bilayer membranes with various dimensions and lipid compositions or into a pseudomembrane. The pseudomembrane is built using the Protein Nano-Object Integrator which generates a parallelepiped of user-specified dimensions made up of pseudoatoms. The pseudomembrane allows for modeling the desolvation effects while avoiding plausible errors associated with wrongly assigned protein-lipid contacts. The method is implemented into a web server, the ProBLM server, which is freely available to the biophysical community. The web server allows the user to upload a protein coordinate file and any missing residues or heavy atoms are regenerated. ProBLM then creates a combined protein-membrane complex from the given membrane protein and bilayer lipid membrane or pseudomembrane. The user is given an option to manually refine the model by manipulating the position and orientation of the protein with respect to the membrane.