Quantifying Unbiased Conformational Ensembles from Biased Simulations Using ShapeGMM

Subarna Sasmal, Triasha Pal, Glen M. Hocky, Martin McCullagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quantifying the conformational ensembles of biomolecules is fundamental to describing mechanisms of processes such as protein folding, interconversion between folded states, ligand binding, and allosteric regulation. Accurate quantification of these ensembles remains a challenge for conventional molecular simulations of all but the simplest molecules due to insufficient sampling. Enhanced sampling approaches, such as metadynamics, were designed to overcome this challenge; however, the nonuniform frame weights that result from many of these approaches present an additional challenge to ensemble quantification techniques such as Markov State Modeling or structural clustering. Here, we present rigorous inclusion of nonuniform frame weights into a structural clustering method entitled shapeGMM. The result of frame-weighted shapeGMM is a high dimensional probability density and generative model for the unbiased system from which we can compute important thermodynamic properties such as relative free energies and configurational entropy. The accuracy of this approach is demonstrated by the quantitative agreement between GMMs computed by Hamiltonian reweighting and direct simulation of a coarse-grained helix model system. Furthermore, the relative free energy computed from a shapeGMM probability density of alanine dipeptide reweighted from a metadynamics simulation quantitatively reproduces the underlying free energy in the basins. Finally, the method identifies hidden structures along the actin globular to filamentous-like structural transition from a metadynamics simulation on a linear discriminant analysis coordinate trained on GMM states, illustrating how structural clustering of biased data can lead to biophysical insight. Combined, these results demonstrate that frame-weighted shapeGMM is a powerful approach to quantifying biomolecular ensembles from biased simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3492-3502
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of chemical theory and computation
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 14 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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