Skip to main content

Protein Conformational States—A First Principles Bayesian Method...

by David M Rogers
Publication Type
Journal Name
Publication Date
Page Number

Automated identification of protein conformational states from simulation of an ensemble of structures is a hard problem because it requires teaching a computer to recognize shapes. We adapt the naïve Bayes classifier from the machine learning community for use on atom-to-atom pairwise contacts. The result is an unsupervised learning algorithm that samples a ‘distribution’ over potential classification schemes. We apply the classifier to a series of test structures and one real protein, showing that it identifies the conformational transition with >95% accuracy in most cases. A nontrivial feature of our adaptation is a new connection to information entropy that allows us to vary the level of structural detail without spoiling the categorization. This is confirmed by comparing results as the number of atoms and time-samples are varied over 1.5 orders of magnitude. Further, the method’s derivation from Bayesian analysis on the set of inter-atomic contacts makes it easy to understand and extend to more complex cases.