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In Journal of chemical theory and computation

Calculating absolute binding free energies is challenging and important. In this paper, we test some recently-developed metadynamics-based methods and develop a new combination with a Hamiltonian replica-exchange approach. The methods were tested on 18 chemically-diverse ligands with a wide range of different binding affinities to a complex target; namely, human soluble epoxide hydrolase. The results suggest that metadynamics with a funnel-shaped restraint can be used to calcu-late, in a computationally affordable and relatively accurate way, the absolute binding free energy for small fragments. When used in combination with an optimal path-like variable obtained using machine learning; or with the Hamiltonian replica-exchange algorithm SWISH; this method can achieve reasonably accurate results for increasingly complex ligands, with a good balance of computational cost and speed. An additional benefit of using the combination of metadynamics and SWISH is that it also provides useful information about the role of water in the binding mechanism.

Evans Rhys, Hovan Ladislav, Tribello Gareth A, Cossins Benjamin P, Estarellas Carolina, Gervasio Francesco Luigi