Machine learning is a popular technique to predict the retention times of molecules based on descriptors. Descriptors and associated labels (e.g., retention times) of a set of molecules can be used to train a machine learning algorithm. However, descriptors are fixed molecular features which are not necessarily optimized for the given machine learning problem (e.g., to predict retention times). Recent advances in molecular machine learning make use of so-called graph convolutional networks (GCNs) to learn molecular representations from atoms and their bonds to adjacent atoms to optimize the molecular representation for the given problem. In this study, two GCNs were implemented to predict the retention times of molecules for three different chromatographic data sets and compared to seven benchmarks (including two state-of-the art machine learning models). Additionally, saliency maps were computed from trained GCNs to better interpret the importance of certain molecular sub-structures in the data sets. Based on the overall observations of this study, the GCNs performed better than all benchmarks, either significantly outperforming them (5-25% lower mean absolute error) or performing similar to them (<5% difference). Saliency maps revealed a significant difference in molecular sub-structures that are important for predictions of different chromatographic data sets (reversed-phase liquid chromatography vs hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography).

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)15633-15641
Aantal pagina's9
TijdschriftAnalytical Chemistry
Nummer van het tijdschrift47
StatusPublished - 30 nov 2021


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