J Chem Theory Comput. 2022 Aug 3. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.2c00393. Online ahead of print.
Present-day atomistic simulations generate long trajectories of ever more complex systems. Analyzing these data, discovering metastable states, and uncovering their nature are becoming increasingly challenging. In this paper, we first use the variational approach to conformation dynamics to discover the slowest dynamical modes of the simulations. This allows the different metastable states of the system to be located and organized hierarchically. The physical descriptors that characterize metastable states are discovered by means of a machine learning method. We show in the cases of two proteins, chignolin and bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor, how such analysis can be effortlessly performed in a matter of seconds. Another strength of our approach is that it can be applied to the analysis of both unbiased and biased simulations.