Toward Learned Chemical Perception of Force Field Typing Rules

J Chem Theory Comput. 2019 Jan 8;15(1):402-423. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.8b00821. Epub 2018 Dec 24.


Molecular mechanics force fields define how the energy and forces in a molecular system are computed from its atomic positions, thus enabling the study of such systems through computational methods like molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations. Despite progress toward automated force field parametrization, considerable human expertise is required to develop or extend force fields. In particular, human input has long been required to define atom types, which encode chemically unique environments that determine which parameters will be assigned. However, relying on humans to establish atom types is suboptimal. Human-created atom types are often developed without statistical justification, leading to over- or under-fitting of data. Human-created types are also difficult to extend in a systematic and consistent manner when new chemistries must be modeled or new data becomes available. Finally, human effort is not scalable when force fields must be generated for new (bio)polymers, compound classes, or materials. To remedy these deficiencies, our long-term goal is to replace human specification of atom types with an automated approach, based on rigorous statistics and driven by experimental and/or quantum chemical reference data. In this work, we describe novel methods that automate the discovery of appropriate chemical perception: SMARTY allows for the creation of atom types, while SMIRKY goes further by automating the creation of fragment (nonbonded, bonds, angles, and torsions) types. These approaches enable the creation of move sets in atom or fragment type space, which are used within a Monte Carlo optimization approach. We demonstrate the power of these new methods by automating the rediscovery of human defined atom types (SMARTY) or fragment types (SMIRKY) in existing small molecule force fields. We assess these approaches using several molecular data sets, including one which covers a diverse subset of the DrugBank database.

PMID:30512951 | PMC:PMC6467725 | DOI:10.1021/acs.jctc.8b00821