Kartograf: An Accurate Geometry-Based Atom Mapper for Hybrid Topology Relative Free Energy Calculations

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


Relative binding free energy (RBFE) calculations have emerged as a powerful tool supporting ligand optimization in drug discovery. Despite many successes, the use of RBFEs can often be limited by automation problems, in particular the setup of such calculations. Atom mapping algorithms are an essential component in setting up automatic large-scale hybrid topology RBFE calculation campaigns. Traditional algorithms typically employ a 2D subgraph isomorphism solver (SIS) in order to estimate the maximum common substructure (MCS). SIS-based approaches can be limited by time-intensive operations and issues with capturing geometry-linked chemical properties, leading potentially to suboptimal solutions. To overcome these limitations, we have developed Kartograf, a geometric-graph-based algorithm that uses primarily the 3D coordinates of atoms to find a mapping between two ligands. In free energy approaches, the ligand conformations are usually derived from docking or other previous modeling approaches giving the coordinates a certain importance. By considering the spatial relationships between atoms related to the molecule coordinates, our algorithm bypasses the computationally complex subgraph matching of SIS-based approaches and reduces the problem to a much simpler bipartite graph matching problem. Moreover, Kartograf effectively circumvents typical mapping issues induced by molecule symmetry and stereoisomerism, making it a more robust approach for atom mapping from a geometric perspective. To validate our method, we have calculated mappings with our novel approach using a diverse set of small molecules and used the mappings in relative hydration and binding free energies calculations. The comparison with two SIS-based algorithms showed that Kartograf offers a fast alternative approach. The code for Kartograf is freely available on Github (https://github.com/OpenFreeEnergy/kartograf). While developed for the OpenFE ecosystem, Kartograf can also be utilized as a standalone Python package.


Free Energy Calculations
Atom Mapping
Potency Ligand Ranking
Linear Sum Assignment
Open Source

Supplementary materials

Additional Data for the Manuscript

Supplementary weblinks


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