Accelerating large-scale protein structure alignments with graphics processing units

Bin Pang, Nan Zhao, Michela Becchi, Dmitry Korkin, Chi-Ren Shyu
Informatics Institute, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA
BMC Research Notes, 5:116, 2012


   title={Accelerating large-scale protein structure alignments with graphics processing units},

   author={Pang, B. and Zhao, N. and Becchi, M. and Korkin, D. and Shyu, C.R.},

   journal={BMC Research Notes},





   publisher={BioMed Central Ltd}


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BACKGROUND: Large-scale protein structure alignment, an indispensable tool to structural bioinformatics, poses a tremendous challenge on computational resources. To ensure structure alignment accuracy and efficiency, efforts have been made to parallelize traditional alignment algorithms in grid environments. However, these solutions are costly and of limited accessibility. Others trade alignment quality for speedup by using high-level characteristics of structure fragments for structure comparisons. FINDINGS: We present ppsAlign, a parallel protein structure Alignment framework designed and optimized to exploit the parallelism of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). As a general-purpose GPU platform, ppsAlign could take many concurrent methods, such as TM-align and Fr-TM-align, into the parallelized algorithm design. We evaluated ppsAlign on an NVIDIA Tesla C2050 GPU card, and compared it with existing software solutions running on an AMD dual-core CPU. We observed a 36-fold speedup over TM-align, a 65-fold speedup over Fr-TM-align, and a 40-fold speedup over MAMMOTH. CONCLUSIONS: ppsAlign is a high-performance protein structure alignment tool designed to tackle the computational complexity issues from protein structural data. The solution presented in this paper allows large-scale structure comparisons to be performed using massive parallel computing power of GPU.
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