Improving Generalizability of Protein Sequence Models via Data Augmentations

1 Jan 2021  ·  Hongyu Shen, Layne C. Price, Mohammad Taha Bahadori, Franziska Seeger ·

While protein sequence data is an emerging application domain for machine learning methods, small modifications to protein sequences can result in difficult-to-predict changes to the protein's function. Consequently, protein machine learning models typically do not use randomized data augmentation procedures analogous to those used in computer vision or natural language, e.g., cropping or synonym substitution. In this paper, we empirically explore a set of simple string manipulations, which we use to augment protein sequence data when fine-tuning semi-supervised protein models. We provide 276 different comparisons to the Tasks Assessing Protein Embeddings (TAPE) baseline models, with Transformer-based models and training datasets that vary from the baseline methods only in the data augmentations and representation learning procedure. For each TAPE validation task, we demonstrate improvements to the baseline scores when the learned protein representation is fixed between tasks. We also show that contrastive learning fine-tuning methods typically outperform masked-token prediction in these models, with increasing amounts of data augmentation generally improving performance for contrastive learning protein methods. We find the most consistent results across TAPE tasks when using domain-motivated transformations, such as amino acid replacement, as well as restricting the Transformer attention to randomly sampled sub-regions of the protein sequence. In rarer cases, we even find that information-destroying augmentations, such as randomly shuffling entire protein sequences, can improve downstream performance.

PDF Abstract


  Add Datasets introduced or used in this paper

Results from the Paper

  Submit results from this paper to get state-of-the-art GitHub badges and help the community compare results to other papers.