ABT-MPNN: an atom-bond transformer-based message-passing neural network for molecular property prediction
Cardona, Silvia T.
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Abstract Graph convolutional neural networks (GCNs) have been repeatedly shown to have robust capacities for modeling graph data such as small molecules. Message-passing neural networks (MPNNs), a group of GCN variants that can learn and aggregate local information of molecules through iterative message-passing iterations, have exhibited advancements in molecular modeling and property prediction. Moreover, given the merits of Transformers in multiple artificial intelligence domains, it is desirable to combine the self-attention mechanism with MPNNs for better molecular representation. We propose an atom-bond transformer-based message-passing neural network (ABT-MPNN), to improve the molecular representation embedding process for molecular property predictions. By designing corresponding attention mechanisms in the message-passing and readout phases of the MPNN, our method provides a novel architecture that integrates molecular representations at the bond, atom and molecule levels in an end-to-end way. The experimental results across nine datasets show that the proposed ABT-MPNN outperforms or is comparable to the state-of-the-art baseline models in quantitative structure–property relationship tasks. We provide case examples of Mycobacterium tuberculosis growth inhibitors and demonstrate that our model's visualization modality of attention at the atomic level could be an insightful way to investigate molecular atoms or functional groups associated with desired biological properties. The new model provides an innovative way to investigate the effect of self-attention on chemical substructures and functional groups in molecular representation learning, which increases the interpretability of the traditional MPNN and can serve as a valuable way to investigate the mechanism of action of drugs.