Prediction of octanol-water partition coefficients for the SAMPL6- log P molecules using molecular dynamics simulations with OPLS-AA, AMBER and CHARMM force fields

Shujie Fan, Bogdan I. Iorga, Oliver Beckstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


All-atom molecular dynamics simulations with stratified alchemical free energy calculations were used to predict the octanol-water partition coefficient log Pow of eleven small molecules as part of the SAMPL6-log P blind prediction challenge using four different force field parametrizations: standard OPLS-AA with transferable charges, OPLS-AA with non-transferable CM1A charges, AMBER/GAFF, and CHARMM/CGenFF. Octanol parameters for OPLS-AA, GAFF and CHARMM were validated by comparing the density as a function of temperature, the chemical potential, and the hydration free energy to experimental values. The partition coefficients were calculated from the solvation free energy for the compounds in water and pure (“dry”) octanol or “wet” octanol with 27 mol% water dissolved. Absolute solvation free energies were computed by thermodynamic integration (TI) and the multistate Bennett acceptance ratio with uncorrelated samples from data generated by an established protocol using 5-ns windowed alchemical free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations with the Gromacs molecular dynamics package. Equilibration of sets of FEP simulations was quantified by a new measure of convergence based on the analysis of forward and time-reversed trajectories. The accuracy of the log Pow predictions was assessed by descriptive statistical measures such as the root mean square error (RMSE) of the data set compared to the experimental values. Discarding the first 1 ns of each 5-ns window as an equilibration phase had a large effect on the GAFF data, where it improved the RMSE by up to 0.8 log units, while the effect for other data sets was smaller or marginally worsened the agreement. Overall, CGenFF gave the best prediction with RMSE 1.2 log units, although for only eight molecules because the current CGenFF workflow for Gromacs does not generate files for certain halogen-containing compounds. Over all eleven compounds, GAFF gave an RMSE of 1.5. The effect of using a mixed water/octanol solvent slightly decreased the accuracy for CGenFF and GAFF and slightly increased it for OPLS-AA. The GAFF and OPLS-AA results displayed a systematic error where molecules were too hydrophobic whereas CGenFF appeared to be more balanced, at least on this small data set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-560
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • AMBER force field
  • CHARMM force field
  • Free energy perturbation
  • Ligand parametrization
  • Molecular dynamics
  • OPLS-AA force field
  • Octanol-water partition coefficient
  • Solvation free energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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