Introduction: Similarity analysis of protein structure is considered as a fundamental step to give insight into the relationships between proteins. The primary step in structural alignment is looking for the optimal correspondence between residues of two structures to optimize the scoring function. An exhaustive search for finding such a correspondence between two structures is intractable.
Methods: In this paper, a hybrid method is proposed, namely GADP-align, for pairwise protein structure alignment. The proposed method looks for an optimal alignment using a hybrid method based on a genetic algorithm and an iterative dynamic programming technique. To this end, the method first creates an initial map of correspondence between secondary structure elements (SSEs) of two proteins. Then, a genetic algorithm combined with an iterative dynamic programming algorithm is employed to optimize the alignment.
Results: The GADP-align algorithm was employed to align 10 ‘difficult to align’ protein pairs in order to evaluate its performance. The experimental study shows that the proposed hybrid method produces highly accurate alignments in comparison with the methods using exactly the dynamic programming technique. Furthermore, the proposed method prevents the local optimal traps caused by the unsuitable initial guess of the corresponding residues.
Conclusion: The findings of this paper demonstrate that employing the genetic algorithm along with the dynamic programming technique yields highly accurate alignments between a protein pair by exploring the global alignment and avoiding trapping in local alignments.
Keywords: Bioinformatics, Protein structure alignment, Genetic algorithm, Dynamic programming