Wu, Zhaolong / Chen, Enbo / Zhang, Shuwen / Ma, Yinping / Mao, Youdong Visualizing conformational space of functional biomolecular complexes by deep manifold learning 2022. Intl. J. of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 23, No. 16, p. 8872
The cellular functions are executed by biological macromolecular complexes in nonequilibrium dynamic processes, which exhibit a vast diversity of conformational states. Solving the conformational continuum of important biomolecular complexes at the atomic level is essential to understanding their functional mechanisms and guiding structure-based drug discovery. Here, we introduce a deep manifold learning framework, named AlphaCryo4D, which enables atomic-level cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) reconstructions that approximately visualize the conformational space of biomolecular complexes of interest. AlphaCryo4D integrates 3D deep residual learning with manifold embedding of pseudo-energy landscapes, which simultaneously improves 3D classification accuracy and reconstruction resolution via an energy-based particle-voting algorithm. In blind assessments using simulated heterogeneous datasets, AlphaCryo4D achieved 3D classification accuracy three times those of alternative methods and reconstructed continuous conformational changes of a 130-kDa protein at sub-3 Å resolution. By applying this approach to analyze several experimental datasets of the proteasome, ribosome and spliceosome, we demonstrate its potential generality in exploring hidden conformational space or transient states of macromolecular complexes that remain hitherto invisible. Integration of this approach with time-resolved cryo-EM further allows visualization of conformational continuum in a nonequilibrium regime at the atomic level, thus potentially enabling therapeutic discovery against highly dynamic biomolecular targets.