“To understand molecular mechanisms of functions of protein complexes, biologists have been using experimental methods such as X-rays and microscopes, but they are time- and resource-intensive efforts,” said Daisuke Kihara, a professor of biological sciences and computer science in Purdue’s College of Science, who leads the research team. “Bioinformatics researchers in our lab and other institutions have been developing computational methods for modeling protein complexes. One big challenge is that a computational method usually generates thousands of models, and choosing the correct one or ranking the models can be difficult.”
Kihara and his team developed a system called DOVE, DOcking decoy selection with Voxel-based deep neural network, which applies deep learning principles to virtual models of protein interactions. DOVE scans the protein-protein interface of a model and then uses deep learning model principles to distinguish and capture structural features of correct and incorrect models.
“Our work represents a major advancement in the field of bioinformatics,” said Xiao Wang, a graduate student and member of the research team. “This may be the first time researchers have successfully used deep learning and 3D features to quickly understand the effectiveness of certain protein models. Then, this information can be used in the creation of targeted drugs to block certain protein-protein interactions.”