MMDesign: Multi-Modality Transfer Learning for Generative Protein Design


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Protein design involves generating protein sequences based on their corresponding protein backbones. While deep generative models show promise for learning protein design directly from data, the lack of publicly available structure-sequence pairings limits their generalization capabilities. Previous efforts of generative protein design have focused on architectural improvements and pseudo-data augmentation to overcome this bottleneck. To further address this challenge, we propose a novel protein design paradigm called MMDesign, which leverages multi-modality transfer learning. To our knowledge, MMDesign is the first framework that combines a pretrained structural module with a pretrained contextual module, using an auto-encoder (AE) based language model to incorporate prior semantic knowledge of protein sequences. We also introduce a cross-layer cross-modal alignment algorithm to enable the structural module to learn long-term temporal information and ensure consistency between structural and contextual modalities. Experimental results, only training with the small CATH dataset, demonstrate that our MMDesign framework consistently outperforms other baselines on various public test sets. To further assess the biological plausibility of the generated protein sequences and data distribution, we present systematic quantitative analysis techniques that provide interpretability and reveal more about the laws of protein design.
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