Results of the recent Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction, CASP8, present several valuable sources of information. First, CASP targets comprise a realistic sample of currently solved protein structures and exemplify the corresponding challenges for predictors. Second, the plethora of predictions by all possible methods provides an unusually rich material for evolutionary analysis of target proteins. Third, CASP results show the current state of the field and highlight specific problems in both predicting and assessing. Finally, these data can serve as grounds to develop and analyze methods for assessing prediction quality. Here we present results of our analysis in these areas. Our objective is not to duplicate CASP assessment, but to use our unique experience as former CASP5 assessors and CASP8 predictors to (i) offer more insights into CASP targets and predictions based on expert analysis, including invaluable analysis prior to target structure release; and (ii) develop an assessment methodology tailored towards current challenges in the field. Specifically, we discuss preparing target structures for assessment, parsing protein domains, balancing evaluations based on domains and on whole chains, dividing targets into categories and developing new evaluation scores. We also present evolutionary analysis of the most interesting and challenging targets.
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