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Workshop: Machine Learning in Structural Biology

TERMinator: A Neural Framework for Structure-Based Protein Design using Tertiary Repeating Motifs

Alex Li · Vikram Sundar · Gevorg Grigoryan · Amy Keating


Computational protein design has the potential to deliver novel molecular structures, binders, and catalysts for myriad applications. Recent neural graph-based models that use backbone coordinate-derived features show exceptional performance on native sequence recovery tasks and are promising frameworks for design. A statistical framework for modeling protein sequence landscapes using Tertiary Motifs (TERMs), compact units of recurring structure in proteins, has also demonstrated good performance on protein design tasks. In this work, we investigate the use of TERM-derived data as features in neural protein design frameworks. Our graph-based architecture, TERMinator, incorporates TERM-based and coordinate-based information and outputs a Potts model over sequence space. TERMinator outperforms state-of-the-art models on native sequence recovery tasks, suggesting that utilizing TERM-based and coordinate-based features together is beneficial for protein design.

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