Finding Reactive Configurations: A Machine Learning Approach for Estimating Energy Barriers Applied to Sirtuin 5

J. Chem. Theory Comput. 2019, 15, 12, 6660–6667,
J. Chem. Theory Comput., online article

Sirtuin 5 is a class III histone deacetylase that, unlike its classification, mainly catalyzes desuccinylation and demanoylation reactions. It is an interesting drug target that we use here to test new ideas for calculating reaction pathways of large molecular systems such as enzymes. A major issue with most schemes (e.g., adiabatic mapping) is that the resulting activation barrier height heavily depends on the chosen educt conformation. This makes the selection of the initial structure decisive for the success of the characterization. Here, we apply machine learning to a large number of molecular dynamics frames and potential energy barriers obtained by quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics calculations in order to identify (1) suitable start-conformations for reaction path calculations and (2) structural features relevant for the first step of the desuccinylation reaction catalyzed by Sirtuin 5. The latter generally aids the understanding of reaction mechanisms and important interactions in active centers. Using our novel approach, we found eleven key features that govern the reactivity. We were able to estimate reaction barriers with a mean absolute error of 3.6 kcal/mol and identified reactive configurations.

Campus Movie 2020


Campus Movie 2012

TU München
Helmholtz München
MPI of Neurobiology
MPI of Biochemistry