Protein–RNA interactions play a critical role in various biological processes. The accurate prediction of RNA-binding residues in proteins has been one of the most challenging and intriguing problems in the field of computational biology. The existing methods still have a relatively low accuracy especially for the sequence-based ab-initio methods.


In this work, we propose an approach aPRBind, a convolutional neural network-based ab-initio method for RNA-binding residue prediction. aPRBind is trained with sequence features and structural ones (particularly including residue dynamics information and residue–nucleotide propensity developed by us) that are extracted from the predicted structures by I-TASSER. The analysis of feature contributions indicates the sequence features are most important, followed by dynamics information, and the sequence and structural features are complementary in binding site prediction. The performance comparison of our method with other peer ones on benchmark dataset shows that aPRBind outperforms some state-of-the-art ab-initio methods. Additionally, aPRBind can give a better prediction for the modeled structures with TM-score≥0.5, and meanwhile since the structural features are not very sensitive to the refined 3D structures, aPRBind has only a marginal dependence on the accuracy of the structure model, which allows aPRBind to be applied to the RNA-binding site prediction for the modeled or unbound structures.

Availability and implementation

The source code is available at

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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