Structure-based protein function prediction using graph convolutional networks

Vladimir Gligorijević, P. Douglas Renfrew, Tomasz Kosciolek, Julia Koehler Leman, Daniel Berenberg, Tommi Vatanen, Chris Chandler, Bryn C. Taylor, Ian M. Fisk, Hera Vlamakis, Ramnik J. Xavier, Rob Knight, Kyunghyun Cho, Richard Bonneau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rapid increase in the number of proteins in sequence databases and the diversity of their functions challenge computational approaches for automated function prediction. Here, we introduce DeepFRI, a Graph Convolutional Network for predicting protein functions by leveraging sequence features extracted from a protein language model and protein structures. It outperforms current leading methods and sequence-based Convolutional Neural Networks and scales to the size of current sequence repositories. Augmenting the training set of experimental structures with homology models allows us to significantly expand the number of predictable functions. DeepFRI has significant de-noising capability, with only a minor drop in performance when experimental structures are replaced by protein models. Class activation mapping allows function predictions at an unprecedented resolution, allowing site-specific annotations at the residue-level in an automated manner. We show the utility and high performance of our method by annotating structures from the PDB and SWISS-MODEL, making several new confident function predictions. DeepFRI is available as a webserver at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3168
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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