DeepRHP: A Hybrid Variational Autoencoder for Designing Random Heteropolymers as Protein Mimics



Synthetic random heteropolymers (RHPs), consisting of a predefined set of monomers, offer an approach toward the design of protein-like materials. These RHPs, if designed appropriately, can mimic protein behavior and function. As such, there is a need for computational tools to efficiently guide RHP design. We bridge this gap by developing DeepRHP, a modified variational autoencoder (VAE) model under a semisupervised framework. By equipping a classical VAE with an additional feature-based VAE, DeepRHP forces the latent space to capture structures of critical chemical features as well as individual RHP sequence patterns. In this sense, our method is versatile by allowing any relevant features to be incorporated in a hybrid manner. We demonstrate the effectiveness of DeepRHP by suggesting potential monomer compositions that stabilize membrane proteins (e.g. Aquaporin Z) in non-native environments and cross-validating our prediction with published results. The concordance between our model and true RHP function suggests strong potential in utilizing hybrid autoencoder architectures to guide RHP design for proteins and other biological compounds.