Tables for
Volume F
Crystallography of biological macromolecules
Edited by E. Arnold, D. M. Himmel and M. G. Rossmann

International Tables for Crystallography (2012). Vol. F, ch. 22.1, p. 708   | 1 | 2 |

Section Further points

M. Gersteina* and F. M. Richardsa

aDepartment of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, 266 Whitney Avenue, Yale University, PO Box 208114, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
Correspondence e-mail: Further points

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The detail provided by these surfaces will depend on the radius of the probe used for their construction.

One may argue that the behaviour of the rolling probe sphere does not accurately model real hydrogen-bonded water. Instead, its `rolling' more closely mimics the behaviour of a nonpolar solvent. An attempt has been made to incorporate more realistic hydrogen-bonding behaviour into the probe sphere, allowing for the definition of a hydration surface more closely linked to the behaviour of real water (Gerstein & Lynden-Bell, 1993c[link]).

The definitions of accessible surface and molecular surface can be related back to the Voronoi construction. The molecular surface is similar to `time-averaging' the surface formed from the faces of Voronoi polyhedra (the Voronoi surface) over many water configurations, and the accessible surface is similar to averaging the Delaunay triangulation of the first layer of water molecules over many configurations.

There are a number of other definitions of protein surfaces that are unrelated to either the probe-sphere method or Voronoi polyhedra and provide complementary information (Kuhn et al., 1992[link]; Leicester et al., 1988[link]; Pattabiraman et al., 1995[link]).


Gerstein, M. & Lynden-Bell, R. M. (1993c). What is the natural boundary for a protein in solution? J. Mol. Biol. 230, 641–650.
Kuhn, L. A., Siani, M. A., Pique, M. E., Fisher, C. L., Getzoff, E. D. & Tainer, J. A. (1992). The interdependence of protein surface topography and bound water molecules revealed by surface accessibility and fractal density measures. J. Mol. Biol. 228, 13–22.
Leicester, S. E., Finney, J. L. & Bywater, R. P. (1988). Description of molecular surface shape using Fourier descriptors. J. Mol. Graphics, 6, 104–108.
Pattabiraman, N., Ward, K. B. & Fleming, P. J. (1995). Occluded molecular surface: analysis of protein packing. J. Mol. Recognit. 8, 334–344.

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