Accurate prediction of protein structures and interactions using a three-track neural network – Science Magazine

Deep learning takes on protein folding

In 1972, Anfinsen won a Nobel prize for demonstrating a connection between a protein’s amino acid sequence and its three-dimensional structure. Since 1994, scientists have competed in the biannual Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction (CASP) protein-folding challenge. Deep learning methods took center stage at CASP14, with DeepMind’s Alphafold2 achieving remarkable accuracy. Baek et al. explored network architectures based on the DeepMind framework. They used a three-track network to process sequence, distance, and coordinate information simultaneously and achieved accuracies approaching those of DeepMind. The method, RoseTTA fold, can solve challenging x-ray crystallography and cryo–electron microscopy modeling problems and generate accurate models of protein-protein complexes.

Science, abj8754, this issue p. 871


DeepMind presented notably accurate predictions at the recent 14th Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction (CASP14) conference. We explored network architectures that incorporate related ideas and obtained the best performance with a three-track network in which information at the one-dimensional (1D) sequence level, the 2D distance map level, and the 3D coordinate level is successively transformed and integrated. The three-track network produces structure predictions with accuracies approaching those of DeepMind in CASP14, enables the rapid solution of challenging x-ray crystallography and cryo–electron microscopy structure modeling problems, and provides insights into the functions of proteins of currently unknown structure. The network also enables rapid generation of accurate protein-protein complex models from sequence information alone, short-circuiting traditional approaches that require modeling of individual subunits followed by docking. We make the method available to the scientific community to speed biological research.

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