NeurIPS 2023
Conference paper

Pre-Training Protein Encoder via Siamese Sequence-Structure Diffusion Trajectory Prediction


Self-supervised pre-training methods on proteins have recently gained attention, with most approaches focusing on either protein sequences or structures, neglecting the exploration of their joint distribution, which is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of protein functions by integrating co-evolutionary information and structural characteristics. In this work, inspired by the success of denoising diffusion models in generative tasks, we propose the DiffPreT approach to pre-train a protein encoder by sequence-structure joint diffusion modeling. DiffPreT guides the encoder to recover the native protein sequences and structures from the perturbed ones along the joint diffusion trajectory, which acquires the joint distribution of sequences and structures. Considering the essential protein conformational variations, we enhance DiffPreT by a method called Siamese Diffusion Trajectory Prediction (SiamDiff) to capture the correlation between different conformers of a protein. SiamDiff attains this goal by maximizing the mutual information between representations of diffusion trajectories of structurally-correlated conformers. We study the effectiveness of DiffPreT and SiamDiff on both atom- and residue-level structure-based protein understanding tasks. Experimental results show that the performance of DiffPreT is consistently competitive on all tasks, and SiamDiff achieves new state-of-the-art performance, considering the mean ranks on all tasks.