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Tool: Build Structure

The Build Structure tool builds and modifies atomic structures. The equivalent commands are build, torsion, bond, and angle. See also: Rotamers, Modeller Comparative, Model Loops, Add Hydrogens, Altloc Explorer, Renumber Residues, Change Chain IDs, rna, swapaa, swapna, undo, selection context menus

Build Structure can be opened from the Structure Editing section of the Tools menu and manipulated like other panels (more...). Sections:

Start Structure

The Start Structure section of Build Structure adds new atoms or molecules independent of any pre-existing atoms. See also: open

Options to Add:

Modify Structure

The Modify Structure section of Build Structure can change the element, valence (number of directly attached atoms), and/or geometry (spatial arrangement of attached atoms) of a single selected atom at a time, potentially changing its atom type assignment. Hydrogens are appended as needed to fill the valence. Building outward can be done by successive cycles of modifying a hydrogen attached to the previously modified atom.

Clicking Apply changes the selected atom as specified:

Clicking the Delete button at the bottom of Modify Structure removes any selected atoms and bonds. See also command: delete, menu: Actions... Delete

Adjust Bonds

The Adjust Bonds section of Build Structure allows adding and deleting covalent bonds. A bond can also be deleted using its selection context menu. See also: bond, combine, delete

Adjust Torsions

The Adjust Torsions section of Build Structure is a table of active (rotatable) torsions with entry fields and dials for interactive adjustment. Clicking Activate adds the selected bond to the list. A torsion can also be activated using the selection context menu of a bond. An error message will appear if an attempt is made to activate a bond that is terminal (without further atoms attached) or within a ring. Active torsions are saved in sessions. See also: Angles/Torsions, angle, torsion, the bond rotation mouse mode

Adjust Torsions dialog

If the four atoms defining a torsion are called 1-2-3-4, atom 1 is Fixed and atom 4 is Moving, meaning that 4 and the side of the molecule bonded to 4 will rotate when the bond is rotated. The bond can be rotated by entering a new angle value or by manipulating the associated dial.

The Bond column contains a pulldown menu for each torsion labeled with the identifiers of atoms 2 ↔ 3 (those flanking the rotatable bond). This menu contains choices to:

When atom 2 is bonded to more than two atoms, there is more than one possible Fixed atom to define the measurement, and alternatives (if any) are available from a pulldown menu. Similarly, when atom 3 is bonded to more than two atoms, there is more than one possible Moving atom, and alternatives (if any) are available from a pulldown menu.

The torsion can be deactivated by clicking the “x” button to its left. To preserve the original position, make sure to reset the angle before deactivating it or swapping sides.

Join Models

The Join Models section of Build Structure allows forming a covalent bond between two atomic models to combine them into one. The atoms of one model are repositioned and incorporated into the other model; the original model will no longer exist. Thus, it may be a good idea to save a session beforehand, since the join (along with other building actions) cannot be undone. The related command combine also combines atomic models, but without forming a bond or changing the relative positions of the atoms.

The atoms to be bonded must first be selected.

Currently only a peptide bond can be formed. The selection must include exactly one peptide C-terminal carbon atom C OR N-terminal nitrogen atom N (not both) from one model, and from a second model, exactly one of whichever of those two atoms is not in the first. These C and N atoms each must be bonded to only one carbon (except N in proline or hydroxyproline can be bonded to two carbons); however, it may also be bonded to hydrogen and/or OXT, and if so, these atoms will be replaced as appropriate by the new peptide bond. The peptide bond will be added with the specified parameters:

Clicking Apply performs the join. The values of ω (omega), φ (phi), and other peptide torsion angles are attributes of the amino acid residue containing the newly bonded N.

Invert

The Invert section of Build Structure allows exchanging the positions of two substituents of an atom, potentially inverting a chiral center. Substituents of atoms that are not chiral centers can also be swapped.

Any unintended results can be reversed by clicking Swap again without changing the selection.

Adjust Angles

The Adjust Angles section of Build Structure is a table of active (currently adjustable) angles with entry fields and dials for interactive adjustment. Clicking Activate adds the angle defined by the three currently selected atoms to the list. Although the atoms need not be connected through consecutive bonds, there are other rules for which atoms can be used to define an active angle. Active angles are saved in sessions. See also: Angles/Torsions, angle, torsion

If the three atoms defining an active angle are 1-2-3, atom 1 is Fixed, atom 2 is Middle, and atom 3 is Moving, meaning that 3 and the side of the molecule bonded to it will move when the angle is adjusted. The angle can be adjusted by entering a new angle value or by manipulating the associated dial. Only values 0.0-180.0° are allowed.

The Middle column contains a pulldown menu labeled with the identifier of atom 2. This menu contains choices to:

The angle can be deactivated by clicking the “x” button to its left. To preserve the original position, make sure to reset the angle before deactivating it or swapping sides.

Covalent Bond Radii

Approximate covalent bond radii are used to guess the connectivity of untemplated residues (when not specified in the input structure file) and to generate crude bond lengths for building atomic structures.

Selected covalent bond radii (Å)
H 0.23
B 0.83
C 0.68
N 0.68
O 0.68
F 0.64
Si 1.20
P 1.05
S 1.02
Cl 0.99
Se 1.22
Br 1.21
I 1.40

A complete list, obtained many years ago from documentation from the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, can be found in Table III of:

Determination of molecular topology and atomic hybridization states from heavy atom coordinates. Meng EC, Lewis RA. J Comput Chem 12:891 (1991).

UCSF Resource for Biocomputing, Visualization, and Informatics / May 2023