MLCV: Bridging Machine-Learning-Based Dimensionality Reduction and Free- Energy Calculation

HC Chen and H Liu and HY Feng and HH Fu and WS Cai and XG Shao and C Chipot, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL INFORMATION AND MODELING (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jcim.1c01010

Importance-sampling algorithms leaning on the definition of a model reaction coordinate (RC) are widely employed to probe processes relevant to chemistry and biology alike, spanning time scales not amenable to common, brute-force molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. In practice, the model RC often consists of a handful of collective variables (CVs) chosen on the basis of chemical intuition. However, constructing manually a low-dimensional RC model to describe an intricate geometrical transformation for the purpose of free-energy calculations and analyses remains a daunting challenge due to the inherent complexity of the conformational transitions at play. To solve this issue, remarkable progress has been made in employing machine-learning techniques, such as autoencoders, to extract the low-dimensional RC model from a large set of CVs. Implementation of the differentiable, nonlinear machine-learned CVs in common MD engines to perform free-energy calculations is, however, particularly cumbersome. To address this issue, we present here a user-friendly tool (called MLCV) that facilitates the use of machine- learned CVs in importance-sampling simulations through the popular Colvars module. Our approach is critically probed with three case examples consisting of small peptides, showcasing that through hard- coded neural network in Colvars, deep-learning and enhanced-sampling can be effectively bridged with MD simulations. The MLCV code is versatile, applicable to all the CVs available in Colvars, and can be connected to any kind of dense neural networks. We believe that MLCV provides an effective, powerful, and user-friendly platform accessible to experts and nonexperts alike for machine-learning (ML)-guided CV discovery and enhanced-sampling simulations to unveil the molecular mechanisms underlying complex biochemical processes.

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