Motivation

Missense variants are a frequent class of variation within the coding genome, and some of them cause Mendelian diseases. Despite advances in computational prediction, classifying missense variants into pathogenic or benign remains a major challenge in the context of personalized medicine. Recently, the structure of the human proteome was derived with unprecedented accuracy using the artificial intelligence system AlphaFold2. This raises the question of whether AlphaFold2 wild-type structures can improve the accuracy of computational pathogenicity prediction for missense variants.

Results

To address this, we first engineered a set of features for each amino acid from these structures. We then trained a random forest to distinguish between relatively common (proxy-benign) and singleton (proxy-pathogenic) missense variants from gnomAD v3.1. This yielded a novel AlphaFold2-based pathogenicity prediction score, termed AlphScore. Important feature classes used by AlphScore are solvent accessibility, amino acid network related features, features describing the physicochemical environment, and AlphaFold2’s quality parameter (predicted local distance difference test). AlphScore alone showed lower performance than existing in silico scores used for missense prediction, such as CADD or REVEL. However, when AlphScore was added to those scores, the performance increased, as measured by the approximation of deep mutational scan data, as well as the prediction of expert-curated missense variants from the ClinVar database. Overall, our data indicate that the integration of AlphaFold2-predicted structures can improve pathogenicity prediction of missense variants.

Availability and implementation

AlphScore, combinations of AlphScore with existing scores, as well as variants used for training and testing are publicly available.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.