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In BMC bioinformatics

BACKGROUND : Driven by deep learning, inter-residue contact/distance prediction has been significantly improved and substantially enhanced ab initio protein structure prediction. Currently, most of the distance prediction methods classify inter-residue distances into multiple distance intervals instead of directly predicting real-value distances. The output of the former has to be converted into real-value distances to be used in tertiary structure prediction.

RESULTS : To explore the potentials of predicting real-value inter-residue distances, we develop a multi-task deep learning distance predictor (DeepDist) based on new residual convolutional network architectures to simultaneously predict real-value inter-residue distances and classify them into multiple distance intervals. Tested on 43 CASP13 hard domains, DeepDist achieves comparable performance in real-value distance prediction and multi-class distance prediction. The average mean square error (MSE) of DeepDist's real-value distance prediction is 0.896 Å2 when filtering out the predicted distance ≥ 16 Å, which is lower than 1.003 Å2 of DeepDist's multi-class distance prediction. When distance predictions are converted into contact predictions at 8 Å threshold (the standard threshold in the field), the precision of top L/5 and L/2 contact predictions of DeepDist's multi-class distance prediction is 79.3% and 66.1%, respectively, higher than 78.6% and 64.5% of its real-value distance prediction and the best results in the CASP13 experiment.

CONCLUSIONS : DeepDist can predict inter-residue distances well and improve binary contact prediction over the existing state-of-the-art methods. Moreover, the predicted real-value distances can be directly used to reconstruct protein tertiary structures better than multi-class distance predictions due to the lower MSE. Finally, we demonstrate that predicting the real-value distance map and multi-class distance map at the same time performs better than predicting real-value distances alone.

Wu Tianqi, Guo Zhiye, Hou Jie, Cheng Jianlin


Contact prediction, Deep learning, Protein distance prediction, Protein structure prediction