Expanded ensemble predictions of absolute binding free energies in the SAMPL9 host--guest challenge

15 June 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


As part of the SAMPL9 community-wide blind host--guest challenge, we implemented an expanded ensemble workflow to predict absolute binding free energies for 13 small molecules against pillar[6]arene. Notable features of our protocol include consideration of a variety of protonation and enantiomeric states for both host and guests, optimization of alchemical intermediates, and analysis of free energy estimates and their uncertainty using large numbers of simulation replicates performed using distributed computing. Our predictions of absolute binding free energies resulted in a mean absolute error of 2.29 kcal mol$^{-1}$ and an $\text{R}^{2}$ of 0.54. Overall, results show that expanded ensemble calculations using all-atom molecular dynamics simulations are a valuable and efficient computational tool in predicting absolute binding free energies.


binding affinity
expanded ensemble
free energy methods


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