Determining collective variables (CVs) for conformational transitions is crucial to understanding their dynamics and targeting them in enhanced sampling simulations. Often, CVs are proposed based on intuition or prior knowledge of a system. However, the problem of systematically determining a proper reaction coordinate (RC) for a specific process in terms of a set of putative CVs can be achieved using committor analysis (CA). Identifying essential degrees of freedom that govern such transitions using CA remains elusive because of the high dimensionality of the conformational space. Various schemes exist to leverage the power of machine learning (ML) to extract an RC from CA. Here, we extend these studies and compare the ability of 17 different ML schemes to identify accurate RCs associated with conformational transitions. We tested these methods on an alanine dipeptide in vacuum and on a sarcosine dipeptoid in an implicit solvent. Our comparison revealed that the light gradient boosting machine method outperforms other methods. In order to extract key features from the models, we employed Shapley Additive exPlanations analysis and compared its interpretation with the “feature importance” approach. For the alanine dipeptide, our methodology identifies ϕ and θ dihedrals as essential degrees of freedom in the C7ax to C7eq transition. For the sarcosine dipeptoid system, the dihedrals ψ and ω are the most important for the cis αD to trans αD transition. We further argue that analysis of the full dynamical pathway, and not just endpoint states, is essential for identifying key degrees of freedom governing transitions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry