Tim's new paper solves all your relative binding free energies at once!

February 2, 2021
Timothy J. Giese

Timothy Giese's latest paper "Variational Method for Networkwide Analysis of Relative Ligand Binding Free Energies with Loop Closure and Experimental Constraints" is published online at JCTC. In this paper Tim lays out the detailed procedure of network-wide free energy calculation. Tim also implemented these methods into FE-ToolKit, which can be downloaded from gitlab.

You can read the abstract below:
We describe an efficient method for the simultaneous solution of all free energies within a relative binding free-energy (RBFE) network with cycle closure and experimental/reference constraint conditions using Bennett Acceptance Ratio (BAR) and Multistate BAR (MBAR) analysis. Rather than solving the BAR or MBAR equations for each transformation independently, the simultaneous solution of all transformations are obtained by performing a constrained minimization of a global objective function. The nonlinear optimization of the objective function is subjected to affine linear constraints that couple the free energies between the network edges. The constraints are used to enforce the closure of thermodynamic cycles within the RBFE network, and to enforce an additional set of linear constraint conditions demonstrated here to be subsets of (1 or 2) experimental values. We describe details of the practical implementation of the network BAR/MBAR procedure, including use of generalized coordinates in the minimization of the free-energy objective function, propagation of bootstrap errors from those coordinates, and performance and memory optimization. In some cases it is found that use of restraints in the optimization is more practical than use of generalized coordinates for enforcing constraint conditions. The fast BARnet and MBARnet methods are used to analyze the RBFEs of six prototypical protein–ligand systems, and it is shown that enforcement of cycle closure conditions reduces the error in the predictions only modestly, and further reduction in errors can be achieved when one or two experimental RBFEs are included in the optimization procedure. These methods have been implemented into FE-ToolKit, a new free-energy analysis toolkit. The BARnet/MBARnet framework presented here opens the door to new, more efficient and robust free-energy analysis with enhanced predictive capability for drug discovery applications.