One of the interesting phenomena that simulations can report on is allosteric communication. Identifying which residues communicate with a target site of interest, like an active site, can help isolate the important regions within a protein.

CARDS is a way of capturing this long-range communication from MD simulations, measuring coupling between between every pair of dihedrals in an entire protein. The CARDS methodology has been published in [CARDS2017].

Using CARDS is a two-step process:

1. Using the implementation within enspara to collect cards by utilizing the command-line script.

2. Analyzing CARDS data using the CARDS-Reader library (URL) as described in the analysis section

Measure correlations with CARDS

CARDS works by decomposing each rotamer into two sets of states - rotameric states and dynamical states. Dynamical states are determined by whether a dihedral remains in a single rotameric state (ordered) or rapidly transitions between multiple rotameric states (disordered). It then computes pairwise correlations between every pair of dihedrals and their rotameric and dynamical states. Thus there are four types of correlations produced by CARDS.

  1. Structure-structure (between rotameric states)
  2. Disorder-disorder (between dynamical states)
  3. Structure-disorder (rotameric states of one dihedral with dynamical states of another)
  4. Disorder-structure (dynamical states of one dihedral with rotameric states of another)

enspara features a multi-processing implementation of CARDS that is useful for large systems or datsets. Before you get started you will need to have the following:

  1. A directory containing all your trajectory files, any format recognized by MDTraj is fine
  2. A topology file that corresponds to your trajectory files (if it doesn’t have the topology pre-written like in .h5 files). Again, any format recognizable by MDTraj is acceptable.

Once you have these two inputs, you must consider how big of a “buffer-zone” you want to use. To prevent counting spurious transitions as part of the correlated motions of your system, CARDS places a buffer-zone around each rotameric-barrier, defining “core-regions” within each rotamer. Thus, a rotamer has only had a “true” transition if it enters a new “core region” than the one it previously occupied. Generally we use buffer-zones that are ~15 degrees on each side of the barrier.

You can read more about buffer zones in the publication [CARDS2017].

Running CARDS

Let’s run a simple example of the script. In our case we have some directory containing a series of .xtc files that are MD Trajectories. We can catch them all using the wild-card *.xtc. We also have our file to load in alongside the trajectories.

python /home/username/enspara/enspara/apps/ \
  --trajectories /path/to/input/*.xtc \
  --topology /path/to/input/ \
  --buffer-size 15 \
  --processes 1 \
  --matrices /home/username/output_path/cards.pickle \
  --indices /home/username/output_path/inds.csv \

This is a CARDS run that will use a buffer-width of 15 degrees, and a single core. The outputs are 1) a single pickle file containing a dictionary of the four types of matrices that CARDS generates, and 2) An inds.csv file that contains the atom indices that correspond to each row/column in the CARDS matrices.

Specifically, the cards.pickle output is a dictionary that contains four matrices. The dictionary keys identify which matrix measures which type of correlation,

Analyze CARDS data

Analysis of CARDS data can be done using the CARDS-Reader library As published in CARDS-using papers, there are multiple ways CARDS data can be analyzed, including:

  1. Extracting Shannon entropies to measure residue disorder
  2. Computing a holistic correlations matrix.
  3. Target site analysis

Extracting Shannon entropy to measure residue disorder

The Shannon entropy is an information-theoretic metric that can be used to measure disorder in a dataset. It is computed across a dataset by looking at the population of each bin:

\(H(X) = -\Sigma_{x} P(x)log(P(x))\)

In CARDS, it provides a useful insight into how much any single dihedral moves around across the simulation dataset.

Computing Shannon entropy of how a dihedral moves in inherently a structural phenomena, and conveniently is equivalent to the diagonal of the CARDS matrix corresponding to Structure_Structure correlation (between rotameric states). We also want to be able to understand motion on an amino-acid level, rather than a dihedral level.

In CARDS-Reader we can use the apps/ found inside the CARDS-Reader library.

python /home/username/cardsReader/apps/ \
  --matrices /home/username/output_path/cards.pickle \
  --indices /home/username/output_path/inds.csv \
  --topology /path/to/input/ \

In this script you are simply inputing the same topology file as used in and the outputs from

The output will be two files, dihedral_entropy.csv and residue_entropy.csv that will have the entropy for each dihedral (AKA just the diagonal), and the residue-level entropy, which is normalized by the maximum amount of entropy a residue can have. In other words, a residue-level entropy of 0.3 means a residue has ~30% of the maximum possible Shannon entropy value it can have.

Computing holistic correlations

To capture the full pattern of communication into a single dihedral matrix, we can sum the four matrices in cards.pickle directly into a single Holistic communication matrix.

This is a relatively trivial task, but for convenience, CARDS-Reader has an apps script apps/ that computes this matrix and saves it.

python /home/username/cardsReader/apps/ \
  --directory /home/username/output_path/cards.pickle \

At it’s core, CARDS is built on the fundamental idea that the overall communication pattern of a system is based on the combined communication of rotameric and disordered states.

\(I_{Holistic} = I_{Structural} + I_{Disordered}\)

The script computes both the Structural-Structural matrix (Structural_MI.csv), as well as a single disorder-disorder matrix (totalDisorder_MI.csv), which is the sum of the other three matrices. It also outputs the total Holistic communication matrix (holistic_MI.csv)

This holistic communication matrix is what we can use to probe overall communication patterns in our system, using techniques like Target site analysis, or other methods.

[CARDS2017](1, 2) Singh, Sukrit, and Gregory R Bowman. “Quantifying Allosteric Communication via Both Concerted Structural Changes and Conformational Disorder with CARDS.” Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, March 2017, acs.jctc.6b01181.