Tech UPTechnologyArtificial intelligence composes music and also proteins

Artificial intelligence composes music and also proteins

Using artificial intelligence, researchers from the United States and Taiwan have published the results of a study of the creation of new proteins in APL Bioengineering , in March 2020.

Proteins are the basic components of life and, consequently, editing or creating new ones allows new functions and processes to be carried out in the field of biology .

Traditionally, new proteins are created by mimicking existing proteins or by manually editing the amino acids that make up proteins, but this process is very long and time consuming and is based on trial and error. To achieve this more quickly, these researchers have made use of the artificial intelligence technique called machine learning , which allows automating some parts of the scientific method through mathematical procedures.

Musical scores

In a vertebrate animal alone, there are about 100,000 types of protein . Its functions are not only determined by its structure, but also by its shape, and this results in a complexity that exceeds our imagination, as the entomologist Edward O. Wilson explains in his book Consilience :

“The amino acid strand of each type folds on itself in a precise way, curled like a twine and wrinkled like a tight piece of paper. The whole molecule looks like shapes as variable as clouds in the sky. When looking at such shapes we easily imagine lumpy spheres, donuts, weights, ram’s heads, angels with outstretched wings, and corkscrews. “

The most striking thing about this new system for creating proteins using machine learning is that protein structures are translated into musical scores. Somehow, like this, an algorithm has been created to materialize music from sound waves to matter .

Each of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins has a unique vibrational frequency . Consequently, the chemical structure of each protein can be mapped with audible representations, using familiar concepts from music theory such as melody, chords or rhythm. The sounds generated, determined by the way the protein folds, can thus be used to train deep learning neural networks.

As Markus J. Buehler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains: “Once the computer receives a sequence, it can extrapolate and design entirely new proteins by improvising from this initial idea, while considering various levels of musical variations, controlled by through a temperature parameter “.

Through these steps, the researchers showed that the method could engineer proteins that nature had not yet conceived , paving the way for entirely new biomaterials.

By adjusting the temperature, you can also increase the number of variations that the algorithm creates. New mutations can be measured to see which ones are more efficient as enzymes, for example. The “protein music” the researchers discovered could also help create new compositional techniques in classical music by translating the rhythms and tones found naturally in proteins.

“In the evolution of proteins over thousands of years, nature also gives us new ideas on how to combine and fuse sounds,” said Buehler, alluding to this music that has been directly inspired by biology.

Referencia: “Sonification based de novo protein design using artificial intelligence, structure prediction and analysis using molecular modeling,” APL Bioengineering, DOI: 10.1063/1.5133026.

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