Advances in imagery at atomic and near-atomic resolution, such as cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), have led to an influx of high resolution images of proteins and other macromolecular structures to data banks worldwide. Producing a protein structure from the discrete voxel grid data of cryo-EM maps involves interpolation into the continuous spatial domain. We present a novel data format called the neural cryo-EM map, which is formed from a set of neural networks that accurately parameterize cryo-EM maps and provide native, spatially continuous data for density and gradient. As a case study of this data format, we create graph-based interpretations of high resolution experimental cryo-EM maps.
Normalized cryo-EM map values interpolated using the non-linear neural cryo-EM format are more accurate, consistently scoring less than 0.01 mean absolute error, than a conventional tri-linear interpolation, which scores up to 0.12 mean absolute error. Our graph-based interpretations of 115 experimental cryo-EM maps from 1.15 to 4.0 Å resolution provide high coverage of the underlying amino acid residue locations, while accuracy of nodes is correlated with resolution. The nodes of graphs created from atomic resolution maps (higher than 1.6 Å) provide greater than 99% residue coverage as well as 85% full atomic coveragemore »
The fully continuous and differentiable nature of the neural cryo-EM map enables the adaptation of the voxel data to alternative data formats, such as a graph that characterizes the atomic locations of the underlying protein or macromolecular structure. Graphs created from atomic resolution maps are superior in finding atom locations and may serve as input to predictive residue classification and structure segmentation methods. This work may be generalized to transform any 3D grid-based data format into non-linear, continuous, and differentiable format for downstream geometric deep learning applications.