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An automatic adaptive importance sampling algorithm for molecular dynamics in reaction coordinates
(2017)

In this article we propose an adaptive importance sampling scheme for dynamical quantities of high dimensional complex systems which are metastable. The main idea of this article is to combine a method coming from Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Metadynamics, with a theorem from stochastic analysis, Girsanov's theorem. The proposed algorithm has two advantages compared to a standard estimator of dynamic quantities: firstly, it is possible to produce estimators with a lower variance and, secondly, we can speed up the sampling. One of the main problems for building importance sampling schemes for metastable systems is to find the metastable region in order to manipulate the potential accordingly. Our method circumvents this problem by using an assimilated version of the Metadynamics algorithm and thus creates a non-equilibrium dynamics which is used to sample the equilibrium quantities.

Dynamical reweighting methods permit to estimate kinetic observables of a stochastic process governed by a target potential U(x) from trajectories that have been generated at a different potential V(x). In this article, we present Girsanov reweighting and Square Root Approximation (SqRA): the first method reweights path probabilities exploiting the Girsanov theorem and can be applied to Markov State Models (MSMs) to reweight transition probabilities; the second method was originally developed to discretize the Fokker-Planck operator into a transition rate matrix, but here we implement it into a reweighting scheme for transition rates. We begin by reviewing the theoretical background of the methods, then present two applications relevant to Molecular Dynamics (MD), highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

Metadynamics is a computational method to explore the phase space of a molecular system. Gaussian functions are added along relevant coordinates on the fly during a molecular-dynamics simulation to force the system to escape from minima in the potential energy function. The dynamics in the resulting trajectory are however unphysical and cannot be used directly to estimate dynamical properties of the system. Girsanov reweighting is a recent method used to construct the Markov State Model (MSM) of a system subjected to an external perturbation. With the combination of these two techniques—metadynamics/Girsanov-reweighting—the unphysical dynamics in a metadynamics simulation can be reweighted to obtain the MSM of the unbiased system. We demonstrate the method on a one-dimensional diffusion process, alanine dipeptide, and the hexapeptide Val-Gly-Val-Ala-Pro-Gly (VGVAPG). The results are in excellent agreement with the MSMs obtained from direct unbiased simulations of these systems. We also apply metadynamics/Girsanov-reweighting to a β-hairpin peptide, whose dynamics is too slow to efficiently explore its phase space by direct simulation

In recent years, for the analysis of molecular processes, the estimation of time-scales and transition rates has become fundamental. Estimating the transition rates between molecular conformations is—from a mathematical point of view—an invariant subspace projection problem. We present a method to project the infinitesimal generator acting on function space to a low-dimensional rate matrix. This projection can be performed in two steps. First, we discretize the conformational space in a Voronoi tessellation, then the transition rates between adjacent cells is approximated by the geometric average of the Boltzmann weights of the Voronoi cells. This method demonstrates that there is a direct relation between the potential energy surface of molecular structures and the transition rates of conformational changes. We will show also that this approximation is correct and converges to the generator of the Smoluchowski equation in the limit of infinitely small Voronoi cells. We present results for a two dimensional diffusion process and alanine dipeptide as a high-dimensional system.

This chapter explains the different ways in which Markov State Models (MSMs) can be helpful in structure-based drug design. MSMs are constructed from the time series of molecular dynamics (MD), which can be generated by classical MD simulations. Several features of the MSMs can be utilized for rational drug design. The discretization of a validated MSM is particularly suited to extract meaningful representatives from the conformational ensemble, because the discretization yields a small number of microstates and mirrors the features of the free energy landscape. Long-lived conformations consist of a set of microstates which show high transition rates within the set and low transition rates to microstates outside of the set. The Bayesian agglomerative clustering engine (BACE) algorithm uses the observed transition counts to extract long-lived conformations from an MSM. By iteratively merging microstates according to the Bayes factor and recalculating the Bayes-factor matrix, the algorithm yields an aggregation of the microstates into long-lived conformations.

We have combined infrared (IR) experiments with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in solution at finite temperature to analyse the vibrational signature of the small floppy peptide Alanine-Leucine. IR spectra computed from first-principles MD simulations exhibit no distinct differences between conformational clusters of -helix or -sheet-like folds with different orientations of the bulky leucine side chain. All computed spectra show two prominent bands, in good agreement with the experiment, that are assigned to the stretch vibrations of the carbonyl and carboxyl group, respectively. Variations in band widths and exact maxima are likely due to small fluctuations in the backbone torsion angles.

Molecular dynamics (MD) are extremely complex, yet understanding the slow components of their dynamics is essential to understanding their macroscopic properties. To achieve this, one models the MD as a stochastic process and analyses the dominant eigenfunctions of the associated Fokker–Planck operator, or of closely related transfer operators. So far, the calculation of the discretized operators requires extensive MD simulations. The square-root approximation of the Fokker–Planck equation is a method to calculate transition rates as a ratio of the Boltzmann densities of neighboring grid cells times a flux, and can in principle be calculated without a simulation. In a previous work we still used MD simulations to determine the flux. Here, we propose several methods to calculate the exact or approximate flux for various grid types, and thus estimate the rate matrix without a simulation. Using model potentials we test computational efficiency of the methods, and the accuracy with which they reproduce the dominant eigenfunctions and eigenvalues. For these model potentials, rate matrices with up to $\mathcal{O}\left(1{0}^{6}\right)$ states can be obtained within seconds on a single high-performance compute server if regular grids are used.

We present a method to estimate the transition rates of molecular systems under different environmental conditions which cause the formation or the breaking of bonds and require the sampling of the Grand Canonical Ensemble. For this purpose, we model the molecular system in terms of probable "scenarios", governed by different potential energy functions, which are separately sampled by classical MD simulations. Reweighting the canonical distribution of each scenario according to specific environmental variables, we estimate the grand canonical distribution, then we use the Square Root Approximation (SqRA) method to discretize the Fokker-Planck operator into a rate matrix and the robust Perron Cluster Cluster Analysis (PCCA+) method to coarse-grain the kinetic model. This permits to efficiently estimate the transition rates of conformational states as functions of environmental variables, for example, the local pH at a cell membrane. In this work we formalize the theoretical framework of the procedure and we present a numerical experiment comparing the results with those provided by a constant-pH method based on non-equilibrium Molecular Dynamics Monte Carlo simulations. The method is relevant for the development of new drug design strategies which take into account how the cellular environment influences biochemical processes.

Conformational dynamics is essential to biomolecular processes. Markov State Models (MSMs) are widely used to elucidate dynamic properties of molecular systems from unbiased Molecular Dynamics (MD). However, the implementation of reweighting schemes for MSMs to analyze biased simulations is still at an early stage of development. Several dynamical reweighing approaches have been proposed, which can be classified as approaches based on (i) Kramers rate theory, (ii) rescaling of the probability density flux, (iii) reweighting by formulating a likelihood function, (iv) path reweighting. We present the state-of-the-art and discuss the methodological differences of these methods, their limitations and recent applications.

An automatic adaptive importance sampling algorithm for molecular dynamics in reaction coordinates
(2018)