Proteins are the molecules of life which are involved in cellular processes. The functional specificity of a protein is linked to its structure. A great section of bioinformatics deals with the prediction, analysis and visualization of protein 3D structures. High-throughput methods for the determination of protein structures provide the information needed to build structure-activity relationships. The accessibility of these structural data together with genomic and clinical data is of crucial importance for the application of bioinformatics in medical research. The experimental methods are supplemented by homology modelling, where new protein structures are predicted by exploiting structural information from known configurations. Computer visualization of protein models provide insights into biological processes which can not be adequately explained otherwise. For the analysis of protein-protein interactions, Voronoi tessellations are used to quantify the macromolecular interfaces. Details at the atomic and electronic levels of the protein molecules, needed for a deeper understanding of properties that remain unrevealed after structural elucidation, are provided by methods based on quantum theoretical calculations. Many proteins are of immediate medical and pharmacological relevance. The structural analysis is therefore of special interest to understand diseases at a molecular level, which is the prerequisite for new developments in diagnosis and therapy.
Keywords: Protein structures, protein data base, protein visualization, homology modelling, voronoi tessellation, density functional theory, molecular medicine