Robust Density-Based Clustering To Identify Metastable Conformational States of Proteins

A density-based clustering method is proposed that is deterministic, computationally efficient, and self-consistent in its parameter choice. By calculating a geometric coordinate space density for every point of a given data set, a local free energy is defined. On the basis of these free energy estimates, the frames are lumped into local free energy minima, ultimately forming microstates separated by local free energy barriers. The algorithm is embedded into a complete workflow to robustly generate Markov state models from molecular dynamics trajectories. It consists of (i) preprocessing of the data via principal component analysis in order to reduce the dimensionality of the problem, (ii) proposed density-based clustering to generate microstates, and (iii) dynamical clustering via the most probable path algorithm to construct metastable states. To characterize the resulting state-resolved conformational distribution, dihedral angle content color plots are introduced which identify structural differences of protein states in a concise way. To illustrate the performance of the method, three well-established model problems are adopted: conformational transitions of hepta-alanine, folding of villin headpiece, and functional dynamics of bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor.

Contact- and distance-based principal component analysis of protein dynamics

To interpret molecular dynamics simulations of complex systems, systematic dimensionality reduction methods such as principal component analysis (PCA) represent a well-established and popular approach. Apart from Cartesian coordinates, internal coordinates, e.g., backbone dihedral angles or various kinds of distances, may be used as input data in a PCA. Adopting two well-known model problems, folding of villin headpiece and the functional dynamics of BPTI, a systematic study of PCA using distance-based measures is presented which employs distances between Cα-atoms as well as distances between inter-residue contacts including side chains. While this approach seems prohibitive for larger systems due to the quadratic scaling of the number of distances with the size of the molecule, it is shown that it is sufficient (and sometimes even better) to include only relatively few selected distances in the analysis. The quality of the PCA is assessed by considering the resolution of the resulting free energy landscape (to identify metastable conformational states and barriers) and the decay behavior of the corresponding autocorrelation functions (to test the time scale separation of the PCA). By comparing results obtained with distance-based, dihedral angle, and Cartesian coordinates, the study shows that the choice of input variables may drastically influence the outcome of a PCA.

Principal component analysis of molecular dynamics: On the use of Cartesian vs. internal coordinates

Principal component analysis of molecular dynamics simulations is a popular method to account for the essential dynamics of the system on a low-dimensional free energy landscape. Using Cartesian coordinates, first the translation and overall rotation need to be removed from the trajectory. Since the rotation depends via the moment of inertia on the molecule's structure, this separation is only straightforward for relatively rigid systems. Adopting millisecond molecular dynamics simulations of the folding of villin headpiece and the functional dynamics of BPTI provided by D. E. Shaw Research, it is demonstrated via a comparison of local and global rotational fitting that the structural dynamics of flexible molecules necessarily results in a mixing of overall and internal motion. Even for the small-amplitude functional motion of BPTI, the conformational distribution obtained from a Cartesian principal component analysis therefore reflects to some extend the dominant overall motion rather than the much smaller internal motion of the protein. Internal coordinates such as backbone dihedral angles, on the other hand, are found to yield correct and well-resolved energy landscapes for both examples. The virtues and shortcomings of the choice of various fitting schemes and coordinate sets as well as the generality of these results are discussed in some detail.

Computing Velocities and Accelerations from a Pose Time Sequence in Three-dimensional Space

In recent years, small flying robots have become a popular platform in robotics due to their low cost and versatile use. In the context of autonomous navigation, low-cost robots are often equipped with imprecise sensors and actuators and require a proper calibration and carefully designed and learned models. External systems like motion capture cameras usually provide accurate pose estimates for such devices. However, they do not provide the translational and rotational velocities and accelerations of the object. In this paper, we present an algorithm for accurate calculations of the six-dimensional velocity and the six-dimensional acceleration from a possibly noisy pose time sequence. We compute the velocities and accelerations in a regression using Newton's equation of motion as the model function. Thereby, we efficiently decouple the six individual dimensions and account for fictitious forces in the non-inertial body-fixed frame of reference. In simulation and experiments with a real inertial measurement unit (IMU), we show that our algorithm provides accurate velocity and acceleration estimates compared to the reference data.