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In Proteins

Substantial progresses in protein structure prediction have been made by utilizing deep-learning and residue-residue distance prediction since CASP13. Inspired by the advances, we improve our CASP14 MULTICOM protein structure prediction system by incorporating three new components: (1) a new deep learning-based protein inter-residue distance predictor to improve template-free (ab initio) tertiary structure prediction, (2) an enhanced template-based tertiary structure prediction method, and (3) distance-based model quality assessment methods empowered by deep learning. In the 2020 CASP14 experiment, MULTICOM predictor was ranked 7th out of 146 predictors in tertiary structure prediction and ranked 3rd out of 136 predictors in inter-domain structure prediction. The results demonstrate that the template-free modeling based on deep learning and residue-residue distance prediction can predict the correct topology for almost all template-based modeling targets and a majority of hard targets (template-free targets or targets whose templates cannot be recognized), which is a significant improvement over the CASP13 MULTICOM predictor. Moreover, the template-free modeling performs better than the template-based modeling on not only hard targets but also the targets that have homologous templates. The performance of the template-free modeling largely depends on the accuracy of distance prediction closely related to the quality of multiple sequence alignments. The structural model quality assessment works well on targets for which enough good models can be predicted, but it may perform poorly when only a few good models are predicted for a hard target and the distribution of model quality scores is highly skewed. MULTICOM is available at and This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Liu Jian, Wu Tianqi, Guo Zhiye, Hou Jie, Cheng Jianlin


inter-residue distance prediction, protein quality assessment, protein structure prediction