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The analytical expression for the distribution of an interatomic distance resulting from a known error-free distance and a Gaussian perturbation of the atomic coordinates is presented. This is used to estimate the coordinate error on the basis of known geometric features of protein models via the nearest-neighbour or the radial distance distribution. A simple relation is presented that describes the dependence of the map correlation on the positional error of the protein model, the resolution of the X-ray data and the overall atomic displacement parameter. The distribution of geometrical features and the relation between the map correlation and the positional error can be used in assisting the decision-making process during automated model-building procedures.

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