Keyword START_RES provides information on the residue starting numbers and on the locations of the ends of chains.

Some PDB files represent two or more proteins, for example there are four proteins in one hemoglobin.  At the end of each such protein there is a TER entry, indicating the termination of the protein chain.  Sometimes, in a protein, one or more residues are missing.  Missing residues are indicated in the PDB file by a discontinuity in the residue number in a chain. By default, when a PDB file is read in, all missing residues and gaps are automatically identified, and used in constructing the keyword START_RES. In normal work, this keyword should not be modified, however if there is a need to modify it, the following definition of the text is provided as a guide:

START_RES[=](n1[C1][ ,-][n2[C2][ ,-][n3[C3][ ,-]...]])

nn is the number of the first residue in a section of contiguous residues in the PDB file, and Cn is the chain letter.  If two contiguous sections are separated by missing residues, then the two nn are separated by a minus sign.  If the two contiguous sections are on different proteins, then the two nn are separated by a single space.  Only the first residue in each chain needs a chain letter.

Thus if a PDB file consists of three proteins, A, B, and C, and A has residues 30 31 32 33 34 38 39 40, B has residues 44 45 46 49 50 51 55 56 57, and C has residues -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3, then the keyword would be:

 START_RES(30A-38 44B-49-55 -4C-3) or START_RES=(30A-38 44B-49-55 -4C-3) (The equals sign is optional.)

This keyword is read by the program as follows: 

The first residue has residue number 30 and chain letter A.  Subsequent residues have the same chain letter, and residue number increments by one on going from one residue to the next.  After residue 34 there is a gap, so this set of residues would be 30:34.  The next residue found, in the next piece of the same chain, is given the residue number 38, and the same chain letter (A), and is bonded to the last residue of the previous chain (residue #34).  Subsequent residues in this short chain are given consecutive numbers, here 39 and 40.  Residue 40 marks the end of this short bit of chain. 

When PDBOUT is present, the gap between "30A-38" and "44B-49-55" is used to indicate that a "TER" should be written to the PDB file.

The next complete chain starts with residue #44 and has chain letter B.  This chain consists of three short bits of chain, 44:46, 49:51, and 55:57.  The gaps due to missing residues are indicated by the minus sign, which shows that the last residue of a bit of chain is connected to the first residue of the next bit of chain. 

The third chain, C, is unusual, in that the original authors used a negative number, -4, for the residue number of the first residue.  Because of this, the symbol for the first residue in chain C is "-4C"

See also CHAINS(text) to define chain-letters.

See also: RESIDUES, XENO, and RESEQ.