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This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from the Eleventh Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Conference (APBC 2013): Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

Spiral search: a hydrophobic-core directed local search for simplified PSP on 3D FCC lattice

Mahmood A Rashid12*, MA Hakim Newton12, Md Tamjidul Hoque3, Swakkhar Shatabda12, Duc Nghia Pham12 and Abdul Sattar12

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Integrated & Intelligent Systems, Griffith University, QLD, Australia

2 Queensland Research Lab, National ICT Australia, QLD, Australia

3 Computer Science, University of New Orleans, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2013, 14(Suppl 2):S16  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-S2-S16

Published: 21 January 2013



Protein structure prediction is an important but unsolved problem in biological science. Predicted structures vary much with energy functions and structure-mapping spaces. In our simplified ab initio protein structure prediction methods, we use hydrophobic-polar (HP) energy model for structure evaluation, and 3-dimensional face-centred-cubic lattice for structure mapping. For HP energy model, developing a compact hydrophobic-core (H-core) is essential for the progress of the search. The H-core helps find a stable structure with the lowest possible free energy.


In order to build H-cores, we present a new Spiral Search algorithm based on tabu-guided local search. Our algorithm uses a novel H-core directed guidance heuristic that squeezes the structure around a dynamic hydrophobic-core centre. We applied random walks to break premature H-cores and thus to avoid early convergence. We also used a novel relay-restart technique to handle stagnation.


We have tested our algorithms on a set of benchmark protein sequences. The experimental results show that our spiral search algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art local search algorithms for simplified protein structure prediction. We also experimentally show the effectiveness of the relay-restart.