Geometric Transformers for Protein Interface Contact Prediction

Alex Morehead · Chen Chen · Jianlin Cheng


Keywords: [ invariance ] [ geometric deep learning ]


Computational methods for predicting the interface contacts between proteins come highly sought after for drug discovery as they can significantly advance the accuracy of alternative approaches, such as protein-protein docking, protein function analysis tools, and other computational methods for protein bioinformatics. In this work, we present the Geometric Transformer, a novel geometry-evolving graph transformer for rotation and translation-invariant protein interface contact prediction, packaged within DeepInteract, an end-to-end prediction pipeline. DeepInteract predicts partner-specific protein interface contacts (i.e., inter-protein residue-residue contacts) given the 3D tertiary structures of two proteins as input. In rigorous benchmarks, DeepInteract, on challenging protein complex targets from the 13th and 14th CASP-CAPRI experiments as well as Docking Benchmark 5, achieves 14% and 1.1% top L/5 precision (L: length of a protein unit in a complex), respectively. In doing so, DeepInteract, with the Geometric Transformer as its graph-based backbone, outperforms existing methods for interface contact prediction in addition to other graph-based neural network backbones compatible with DeepInteract, thereby validating the effectiveness of the Geometric Transformer for learning rich relational-geometric features for downstream tasks on 3D protein structures.

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