CMsearch: simultaneous exploration of protein sequence space and structure space improves not only protein homology detection but also protein structure prediction

Bioinformatics. 2016 Jun 15;32(12):i332-i340. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btw271.


Motivation: Protein homology detection, a fundamental problem in computational biology, is an indispensable step toward predicting protein structures and understanding protein functions. Despite the advances in recent decades on sequence alignment, threading and alignment-free methods, protein homology detection remains a challenging open problem. Recently, network methods that try to find transitive paths in the protein structure space demonstrate the importance of incorporating network information of the structure space. Yet, current methods merge the sequence space and the structure space into a single space, and thus introduce inconsistency in combining different sources of information.

Method: We present a novel network-based protein homology detection method, CMsearch, based on cross-modal learning. Instead of exploring a single network built from the mixture of sequence and structure space information, CMsearch builds two separate networks to represent the sequence space and the structure space. It then learns sequence-structure correlation by simultaneously taking sequence information, structure information, sequence space information and structure space information into consideration.

Results: We tested CMsearch on two challenging tasks, protein homology detection and protein structure prediction, by querying all 8332 PDB40 proteins. Our results demonstrate that CMsearch is insensitive to the similarity metrics used to define the sequence and the structure spaces. By using HMM-HMM alignment as the sequence similarity metric, CMsearch clearly outperforms state-of-the-art homology detection methods and the CASP-winning template-based protein structure prediction methods.

Availability and implementation: Our program is freely available for download from

Contact: :

Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Computational Biology
  • Proteins
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein*
  • Software


  • Proteins