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FFF: Fragment-Guided Flexible Fitting for Building Complete Protein Structures

Weijie Chen · Xinyan Wang · Yuhang Wang

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 313


Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a technique for reconstructing the 3-dimensional (3D) structure of biomolecules (especially large protein complexes and molecular assemblies). As the resolution increases to the near-atomic scale, building protein structures de novo from cryo-EM maps becomes possible. Recently, recognition-based de novo building methods have shown the potential to streamline this process. However, it cannot build a complete structure due to the low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) problem. At the same time, AlphaFold has led to a great breakthrough in predicting protein structures. This has inspired us to combine fragment recognition and structure prediction methods to build a complete structure. In this paper, we propose a new method named FFF that bridges protein structure prediction and protein structure recognition with flexible fitting. First, a multi-level recognition network is used to capture various structural features from the input 3D cryo-EM map. Next, protein structural fragments are generated using pseudo peptide vectors and a protein sequence alignment method based on these extracted features. Finally, a complete structural model is constructed using the predicted protein fragments via flexible fitting. Based on our benchmark tests, FFF outperforms the baseline meth- ods for building complete protein structures.

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