Massively parallel sampling of lattice proteins reveals foundations of thermal adaptation

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Bioinformatics | Biophysics | Computational Biology | Structural Biology


Evolution of proteins in bacteria and archaea living in different conditions leads to significant correlations between amino acid usage and environmental temperature. The origins of these correlations are poorly understood, and an important question of protein theory, physics-based prediction of types of amino acids overrepresented in highly thermostable proteins, remains largely unsolved. Here, we extend the random energy model of protein folding by weighting the interaction energies of amino acids by their frequencies in protein sequences and predict the energy gap of proteins designed to fold well at elevated temperatures. To test the model, we present a novel scalable algorithm for simultaneous energy calculation for many sequences in many structures, targeting massively parallel computing architectures such as graphics processing unit. The energy calculation is performed by multiplying two matrices, one representing the complete set of sequences, and the other describing the contact maps of all structural templates. An implementation of the algorithm for the CUDA platform is available at http://www.github.com/kzeldovich/galeprot and calculates protein folding energies over 250 times faster than a single central processing unit. Analysis of amino acid usage in 64-mer cubic lattice proteins designed to fold well at different temperatures demonstrates an excellent agreement between theoretical and simulated values of energy gap. The theoretical predictions of temperature trends of amino acid frequencies are significantly correlated with bioinformatics data on 191 bacteria and archaea, and highlight protein folding constraints as a fundamental selection pressure during thermal adaptation in biological evolution.

DOI of Published Version



J Chem Phys. 2015 Aug 7;143(5):055101. doi: 10.1063/1.4927565. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of chemical physics

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID