Generating Novel, Designable, and Diverse Protein Structures by Equivariantly Diffusing Oriented Residue Clouds
Abstract: Proteins power a vast array of functional processes in living cells. The capability to create new proteins with designed structures and functions would thus enable the engineering of cellular behavior and development of protein-based therapeutics and materials. Structure-based protein design aims to find structures that are designable (can be realized by a protein sequence), novel (have dissimilar geometry from natural proteins), and diverse (span a wide range of geometries). While advances in protein structure prediction have made it possible to predict structures of novel protein sequences, the combinatorially large space of sequences and structures limits the practicality of search-based methods. Generative models provide a compelling alternative, by implicitly learning the low-dimensional structure of complex data distributions. Here, we leverage recent advances in denoising diffusion probabilistic models and equivariant neural networks to develop Genie, a generative model of protein structures that performs discrete-time diffusion using a cloud of oriented reference frames in 3D space. Through in silico evaluations, we demonstrate that Genie generates protein backbones that are more designable, novel, and diverse than existing models. This indicates that Genie is capturing key aspects of the distribution of protein structure space and facilitates protein design with high success rates. Code for generating new proteins and training new versions of Genie is available at https://github.com/aqlaboratory/genie.
Submission Number: 2549