Published on Mon Jul 26 2021

Artificial Intelligence Resolves Kinetic Pathways of Magnesium Binding to RNA

Neumann, J., Schwierz, N.

Magnesium is an indispensable cofactor in countless vital processes. The characterization of the binding pathways to biomolecules such as RNA is crucial. To capture the intimate solute-solvent coupling, we perform a committor analysis as basis for a machine learning algorithm.

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Abstract

Magnesium is an indispensable cofactor in countless vital processes. In order to understand its functional role, the characterization of the binding pathways to biomolecules such as RNA is crucial. Despite the importance, a molecular description is still lacking since the transition from the water-mediated outer-sphere to the direct inner-sphere conformation is on the millisecond timescale and therefore out of reach for conventional simulation techniques. To fill this gap, we use transition path sampling to resolve the binding pathways and to elucidate the role of the solvent in the reaction. The results reveal that the molecular void provoked by the leaving phosphate oxygen of the RNA is immediately filled by an entering water molecule. In addition, water molecules from the first and second hydration shell couple to the concerted exchange. To capture the intimate solute-solvent coupling, we perform a committor analysis as basis for a machine learning algorithm that derives the optimal deep learning model from thousands of scanned architectures using hyperparameter tuning. The results reveal that the properly optimized deep network architecture recognizes the important solvent structures, extracts the relevant information and predicts the commitment probability with high accuracy. Our results provide a quantitative description of solute-solvent coupling which is ubiquitous for kosmotropic ions and governs a large variety of biochemical reactions in aqueous solutions.