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Title: DeepTracer for fast de novo cryo-EM protein structure modeling and special studies on CoV-related complexes
Information about macromolecular structure of protein complexes and related cellular and molecular mechanisms can assist the search for vaccines and drug development processes. To obtain such structural information, we present DeepTracer, a fully automated deep learning-based method for fast de novo multichain protein complex structure determination from high-resolution cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) maps. We applied DeepTracer on a previously published set of 476 raw experimental cryo-EM maps and compared the results with a current state of the art method. The residue coverage increased by over 30% using DeepTracer, and the rmsd value improved from 1.29 Å to 1.18 Å. Additionally, we applied DeepTracer on a set of 62 coronavirus-related cryo-EM maps, among them 10 with no deposited structure available in EMDataResource. We observed an average residue match of 84% with the deposited structures and an average rmsd of 0.93 Å. Additional tests with related methods further exemplify DeepTracer’s competitive accuracy and efficiency of structure modeling. DeepTracer allows for exceptionally fast computations, making it possible to trace around 60,000 residues in 350 chains within only 2 h. The web service is globally accessible at .
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Background

    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 »with a mean of 0.19 Å root mean squared deviation. Other graphs have a mean 84% residue coverage with less specificity of the nodes due to experimental noise and differences of density context at lower resolutions.


    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.

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  2. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a structural technique that has played a significant role in protein structure determination in recent years. Compared to the traditional methods of X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy, cryo-EM is capable of producing images of much larger protein complexes. However, cryo-EM reconstructions are limited to medium-resolution (~4–10 Å) for some cases. At this resolution range, a cryo-EM density map can hardly be used to directly determine the structure of proteins at atomic level resolutions, or even at their amino acid residue backbones. At such a resolution, only the position and orientation of secondary structure elements (SSEs) such as α-helices and β-sheets are observable. Consequently, finding the mapping of the secondary structures of the modeled structure (SSEs-A) to the cryo-EM map (SSEs-C) is one of the primary concerns in cryo-EM modeling. To address this issue, this study proposes a novel automatic computational method to identify SSEs correspondence in three-dimensional (3D) space. Initially, through a modeling of the target sequence with the aid of extracting highly reliable features from a generated 3D model and map, the SSEs matching problem is formulated as a 3D vector matching problem. Afterward, the 3D vector matching problem is transformed into a 3D graphmore »matching problem. Finally, a similarity-based voting algorithm combined with the principle of least conflict (PLC) concept is developed to obtain the SSEs correspondence. To evaluate the accuracy of the method, a testing set of 25 experimental and simulated maps with a maximum of 65 SSEs is selected. Comparative studies are also conducted to demonstrate the superiority of the proposed method over some state-of-the-art techniques. The results demonstrate that the method is efficient, robust, and works well in the presence of errors in the predicted secondary structures of the cryo-EM images.« less
  3. Abstract

    An increasing number of density maps of macromolecular structures, including proteins and DNA/RNA complexes, have been determined by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Although lately maps at a near-atomic resolution are routinely reported, there are still substantial fractions of maps determined at intermediate or low resolutions, where extracting structure information is not trivial. Here, we report a new computational method, Emap2sec+, which identifies DNA or RNA as well as the secondary structures of proteins in cryo-EM maps of 5 to 10 Å resolution. Emap2sec+ employs the deep Residual convolutional neural network. Emap2sec+ assigns structural labels with associated probabilities at each voxel in a cryo-EM map, which will help structure modeling in an EM map. Emap2sec+ showed stable and high assignment accuracy for nucleotides in low resolution maps and improved performance for protein secondary structure assignments than its earlier version when tested on simulated and experimental maps.

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