De novo main-chain modeling for EM maps using MAINMAST

Nat Commun. 2018 Apr 24;9(1):1618. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04053-7.


An increasing number of protein structures are determined by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) at near atomic resolution. However, tracing the main-chains and building full-atom models from EM maps of ~4-5 Å is still not trivial and remains a time-consuming task. Here, we introduce a fully automated de novo structure modeling method, MAINMAST, which builds three-dimensional models of a protein from a near-atomic resolution EM map. The method directly traces the protein's main-chain and identifies Cα positions as tree-graph structures in the EM map. MAINMAST performs significantly better than existing software in building global protein structure models on data sets of 40 simulated density maps at 5 Å resolution and 30 experimentally determined maps at 2.6-4.8 Å resolution. In another benchmark of building missing fragments in protein models for EM maps, MAINMAST builds fragments of 11-161 residues long with an average RMSD of 2.68 Å.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Software


  • Proteins