With the development of many computational methods that predict the structural models of protein-protein complexes, there is a pressing need to benchmark their performance. As was the case for protein monomers, assessing the quality of models of protein complexes is not straightforward. An effective scoring scheme should be able to detect substructure similarity and estimate its statistical significance. Here, we focus on characterizing the similarity of the interfaces of the complex and introduce two scoring functions. The first, the interfacial Template Modeling score (iTM-score), measures the geometric distance between the interfaces, while the second, the Interface Similarity score (IS-score), evaluates their residue-residue contact similarity in addition to their geometric similarity. We first demonstrate that the IS-score is more suitable for assessing docking models than the iTM-score. The IS-score is then validated in a large-scale benchmark test on 1562 dimeric complexes. Finally, the scoring function is applied to evaluate docking models submitted to the Critical Assessment of Prediction of Interactions (CAPRI) experiments. While the results according to the new scoring scheme are generally consistent with the original CAPRI assessment, the IS-score identifies models whose significance was previously underestimated.
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