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Finding an Optimal Pathway on a Multidimensional Free-Energy Landscape

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journal contribution
posted on 10.06.2020, 12:13 by Haohao Fu, Haochuan Chen, Xin’ao Wang, Hao Chai, Xueguang Shao, Wensheng Cai, Christophe Chipot
An ad-hoc, yet widely adopted approach to investigate complex molecular objects in motion using importance-sampling schemes involves two steps, namely (i) mapping the multidimensional free-energy landscape that characterizes the movements in the molecular object at hand and (ii) finding the most probable transition path connecting basins of the free-energy hyperplane. To achieve this goal, we turn to an importance-sampling algorithm, coined well-tempered metadynamics-extended adaptive biasing force (WTM-eABF), aimed at mapping rugged free-energy landscapes, combined with a path-searching algorithm, which we call multidimensional lowest energy (MULE), to identify the underlying minimum free-energy pathway in the collective-variable space of interest. First, the well-tempered feature of the importance-sampling scheme confers to the latter an asymptotic convergence, while the overall algorithm inherits the advantage of high sampling efficiency of its predecessor, meta-eABF, making its performance less sensitive to user-defined parameters. Second, the Dijkstra algorithm implemented in MULE is able to identify with utmost efficiency a pathway that satisfies minimum free energy of activation among all the possible routes in the multidimensional free-energy landscape. Numerical simulations of three molecular assemblies indicate that association of WTM-eABF and MULE constitutes a reliable, efficient and robust approach for exploring coupled movements in complex molecular objects. On account of its ease of use and intrinsic performance, we expect WTM-eABF and MULE to become a tool of choice for both experts and nonexperts interested in the thermodynamics and the kinetics of processes relevant to chemistry and biology.

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