Directed Weight Neural Networks for Protein Structure Representation Learning

A protein performs biological functions by folding to a particular 3D structure. To accurately model the protein structures, both the overall geometric topology and local fine-grained relations between amino acids (e.g. side-chain torsion angles and inter-amino-acid orientations) should be carefully considered. In this work, we propose the Directed Weight Neural Network for better capturing geometric relations among different amino acids. Extending a single weight from a scalar to a 3D directed vector, our new framework supports a rich set of geometric operations on both classical and SO(3)--representation features, on top of which we construct a perceptron unit for processing amino-acid information. In addition, we introduce an equivariant message passing paradigm on proteins for plugging the directed weight perceptrons into existing Graph Neural Networks, showing superior versatility in maintaining SO(3)-equivariance at the global scale. Experiments show that our network has remarkably better expressiveness in representing geometric relations in comparison to classical neural networks and the (globally) equivariant networks. It also achieves state-of-the-art performance on various computational biology applications related to protein 3D structures.

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