Wang, Xiangwen / Lu, Yonggang / Lin, Xianghong / Li, Jianwei / Zhang, Zequn. An Unsupervised Classification Algorithm for Heterogeneous Cryo-EM Projection Images Based on Autoencoders. 2023. Intl. J. of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 24, No. 9, p. 8380
Heterogeneous three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction in single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is an important but very challenging technique for recovering the conformational heterogeneity of flexible biological macromolecules such as proteins in different functional states. Heterogeneous projection image classification is a feasible solution to solve the structural heterogeneity problem in single-particle cryo-EM. The majority of heterogeneous projection image classification methods are developed using supervised learning technology or require a large amount of a priori knowledge, such as the orientations or common lines of the projection images, which leads to certain limitations in their practical applications. In this paper, an unsupervised heterogeneous cryo-EM projection image classification algorithm based on autoencoders is proposed, which only needs to know the number of heterogeneous 3D structures in the dataset and does not require any labeling information of the projection images or other a priori knowledge. A simple autoencoder with multi-layer perceptrons trained in iterative mode and a complex autoencoder with residual networks trained in one-pass learning mode are implemented to convert heterogeneous projection images into latent variables. The extracted high-dimensional features are reduced to two dimensions using the uniform manifold approximation and projection dimensionality reduction algorithm, and then clustered using the spectral clustering algorithm. The proposed algorithm is applied to two heterogeneous cryo-EM datasets for heterogeneous 3D reconstruction. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm can effectively extract category features of heterogeneous projection images and achieve high classification and reconstruction accuracy, indicating that the proposed algorithm is effective for heterogeneous 3D reconstruction in single-particle cryo-EM.