Protein Model Quality Assessment : A Machine Learning Approach

Abstract: Many protein structure prediction programs exist and they can efficiently generate a number of protein models of a varying quality. One of the problems is that it is difficult to know which model is the best one for a given target sequence. Selecting the best model is one of the major tasks of Model Quality Assessment Programs (MQAPs). These programs are able to predict model accuracy before the native structure is determined. The accuracy estimation can be divided into two parts: global (the whole model accuracy) and local (the accuracy of each residue). ProQ2 is one of the most successful MQAPs for prediction of both local and global model accuracy and is based on a Machine Learning approach.In this thesis, I present my own contribution to Model Quality Assessment (MQA) and the newest developments of ProQ program series. Firstly, I describe a new ProQ2 implementation in the protein modelling software package Rosetta. This new implementation allows use of ProQ2 as a scoring function for conformational sampling inside Rosetta, which was not possible before. Moreover, I present two new methods, ProQ3 and ProQ3D that both outperform their predecessor. ProQ3 introduces new training features that are calculated from Rosetta energy functions and ProQ3D introduces a new machine learning approach based on deep learning. ProQ3 program participated in the 12th Community Wide Experiment on the Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP12) and was one of the best methods in the MQA category. Finally, an important issue in model quality assessment is how to select a target function that the predictor is trying to learn. In the fourth manuscript, I show that MQA results can be improved by selecting a contact-based target function instead of more conventional superposition based functions.

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