File formats

Vermouth has two main types of data files:

  • Force fields describe blocks, links and modifications to generate topologies.

  • Mappings describe the transformations required for going from one description (force field) to another or vice versa.

The two types of data are contained in data/force_fields and data/mappings, respectively. The force_fields directory has a subdirectory for each force field that is available in vermouth and martinize2. The mappings directory has no mandatory organization; any mapping applies to two force fields, which are specified in the mapping file. For convenience, the mappings may be organized in subfolders. In particular, mappings from and to the canonical description, which is based on the charmm36 force field, are typically placed in a subdirectory with the name of the other force field (e.g., martini30).

Data structures and file formats

Please note that the file formats described here may undergo changes in the future. Features that are in the code, but are not described here should not be considered stable and will likely be deprecated in the future.

For its description of the force fields, topologies and mappings, Vermouth uses a file format based on the one used by Gromacs, consisting of named sections and subsections referred to as directives, each indicated with tag between square brackets. Directives are divided into top-level and sub-level sections.

Force field file (.ff)

The top-level directives for the force field and the topologies are macros, variables, citations, moleculetypes, links, and modifications.

Allowed major directives

The format recognizes the following directives:

  • [ macros ]
    • optional

    • The macros section has no further subsections and lists substitution patterns to be applied throughout the file being read.

    • Macro values are substituted using the name with a preceding $. This is similar to the use of variables in shell scripting and makes it easy to write generalizations and to use and change default values.

    • The following example specifies that the protein default backbone bead type is P2. It can be referred to in the following sections of the file as $prot_default_bb_type .. code-block:

      [ macros ]
      prot_default_bb_type P2
  • [ variables ]
    • optional

    • The variables section has no further subsections and lists a number of variable stored as key value pairs in the force field object <data: force field>. This allows retrieving the parameters using force_field.variables[key] = value.

    • Variables are used to control force field wide parameters that are tied to a specific force field version.

    • For example, the text below specifies that the bond type of the elastic networkx should be 1 for the force field. .. code-block:

      [ variables ]
      elastic_network_bond_type 1
  • [ citations ]

    • optional

    • The citations section lists the citations to be used for the force field. Citations are named and refer to an entry in the bibtex file citations.bib in the force field directory.

    • Note that martinize2 automatically adds some citations via processors. Thus it expects them to be present in the citations file.

    • Citations can also be specified for moleculetypes, links, and modifications, in a citation subsection.

    • An example of this is: .. code-block:

      [ citations ]
    • If you want to add a citation to a specific molecule, the citation directive can be added as subsection to the moleculetype directive: .. code-block:

      [ moleculetype ]
      ALA 3
      [ citations ]
  • [ moleculetype ]
    • optional

    • The moleculetype describes a block, i.e., a topological building block, comprising of particles (atoms) with their properties and interactions. This can be a separate molecule or a part of a larger molecule, typically a monomeric unit in a polymer. The moleculetype has a name and the number of bonds to use for exclusions as its first content line. This is followed by one or more subsections. These subsections are listed below.

    • This directive must be followed by a line specifying the residue or molecule name as well as the number of bonded partners excluded when computing the non-bonded interactions.

    • An example of this is: .. code-block:

      [ moleculetype ]
      ALA 1
  • [ links ]
    • optional

    • To generate a topology for a polymer or any molecule constructed from joining parts, Vermouth connects moleculetypes using links. A link describes how blocks are to be joined, what changes are effected in the atom lists and which interactions are added, removed, or altered. The changes in the atom and interaction lists are specified using the corresponding subsections as under moleculetype. However, there are also several link exclusive subsections as listed below.

    • There may be any number of lines following the section tag. These lines can list selection statements for filtering atoms in which to search for matching patterns. Each line specifies a property and the corresponding value. The selection statements may include filters based on, e.g., the residue name and the secondary structure type, which are used to determine the structural properties of protein backbone in the Martini force field.

    • An example of this feature is is shown below, where the link only applies to atoms with the resname ALA and the secondary structure assignment coil. .. code-block:

      [ link ]
      resname "ALA"
      cgsecstruc "C"
  • [ modification ]
    • optional

    • Modifications can be used to edit molecules or parts thereof (blocks), e.g., for specifying protonation states. Each modification starts with a line with the name. Thereafter may follow subsections as under links. A modification may add, remove, or change atoms, interactions and/or edges, using the corresponding subsections.

Allowed sub-directives: Moleculetype

  • [ atoms ]
    • mandatory

    • Each line in the atoms section describes one particle, corresponding to a node in the molecular graph. The description comprises the following fields:

      • atom number

      • atom type

      • residue index

      • residue name

      • atom name

      • charge group (optional)

      • charge (optional)

      • mass (optional)

    • An example is shown below: .. code-block:

      [ atoms ]
      ;id type resnr residu atom cgnr   charge mass
      1   P5   1     GLY    BB     1      0    47
  • [ edges ]
    • optional

    • Edges will be added to the molecular graph when required based on the interactions directives, but they can also be added explicitly by listing them under the edges subsections. An edge is specified by the corresponding atom names. Note that these edges do not result in any interactions, but they rather complete the molecular graph.

    • An example is shown below: .. code-block:

      [ edges ]
      BB SC1
  • [ interaction_name ]
    • optional

    • There are several options for subsections describing interactions between particles. Of these, bonds, angles, dihedrals, cmap, and constraints will automatically add the corresponding edges to the molecular graph, unless specified explicitly by setting an attribute ‘edge’ to false in a subsection #meta or following a specific interaction.

    • Each line in an interactions subsection specifies one interaction by listing the atoms involved by name, followed by the interaction parameters. For all interactions, the parameters are read as is and written to the output topology without interpreting and/or checking. Bond/constraint lengths, angles and dihedral angles may be used for generating missing coordinates.

    • A full list of interactions is given below, corresponding to the list of intramolecular interactions available in Gromacs, with a number specifying the number of particles involved in the interaction. Note that improper dihedrals are listed as a separate interaction type, whereas in Gromacs these fall under the dihedrals section.

    • Known interactions:
      • bonds(2)

      • angles(3)

      • dihedrals(4)

      • impropers(4)

      • constraints(2)

      • pairs(2)

      • pairs_nb(2)

      • SETTLE(1)

      • virtual_sites2(3)

      • virtual_sites3(4)

      • virtual_sites4(5)

      • position_restraints(1)

      • distance_restraints(2)

      • dihedral_restraints(4)

      • orientation_restraints(2)

      • angle_restraints(4)

      • angle_restraints_z(2)

      • cmap(…)

    • Any of the subsections can be given multiply times, in which case they are additive. Do note that in the output topology specifying the same interaction several times (the same type and particles) will overwrite any previous one, except when they are given different contexts (see below).

    • In order to stack interactions with the same number of atoms but different parameters a special annotation with a version number can be used. This is especially relevant for dihedrals, where multiple ones may be specified. An example is shown below: .. code-block:

      [ dihedrals ]
      BB SC1 SC2 SC3 9  180  5  1 {"version": 1}
      BB SC1 SC2 SC3 9  180  1  2 {"version": 2}
      BB SC1 SC2 SC3 9    0  2  3 {"version": 3}

Allowed sub-directives: Modifications

  • [ atoms ]
    • mandatory

    • The atoms subsection under a modification lists both anchors and atoms to be added to anchors or changed. Entries consist of an atom name followed by an attributes statement. Atoms that are added need to set the “PTM_atom” attribute to True and require a valid “element” attribute. Atoms for which the “PTM_atom” attribute is absent (or False) must already be described by the relevant block with the same atomname. The “replace” attribute may be set to a (nested) JSON dict, listing the atom attributes to be changed and the new values corresponding to the modification. Such changes can also be applied to atoms already present in the molecular graph, i.e., the ‘non-PTM atoms’.`

  • [ interaction_name ]
    • optional

    • A modification may list any number of interactions to be added, if a modification applies. The syntax is the same as for the link sub directive.

Special meta data

The ff file format employs some special syntaxes that can be used to affect the order in which interactions are displayed, comment them, or group them.

So called #meta statements may be added at any line under an interactions directive. These directives always apply to all entries if the remaining subsection. The metadata is given as a JSON style mapping of key/value pairs. Vermouth currently employs the following possible metadata key/value pairs:

  • {ifdef: value}, puts interactions within #ifdef value statements.

  • {ifndef: value}, puts interactions within #ifndef value statements.

  • {group: value}, will list all interactions after inserting a comment ; value

  • {comment: value}, will put a comment ; value after each interaction

For example, the meta block below will group all interactions together under a comment ‘Side chain bonds’ and put these within a #ifdef statement.

[ link ]
#meta {"group": "Side chain bonds", "ifdef": "FLEXIBLE"}

Metadata can also be added to a single line by adding an attribute statement as the last element.

Mapping files (.map & .mapping)

A mapping specifies the conversion from one force field description to another. If the transformation is from a higher resolution force field to a lower resolution, e.g., from the canonical description to Martini, the process is typically called ‘forward mapping’.

The vermouth library currently utilizes two mapping formats. The .map format, which was originally developed for the backward program, is used to describe how two blocks correspond to each other. The second format (.mapping) is exclusively used in the context of modifications and is an extension to the first format.

File structure (.map)

The file is structured into sections, each beginning with a directive enclosed in square brackets ([]).

Allowed directives .map

The format recognizes the following directives:

  • [molecule]
    • This directive is immediately followed by a single line containing an alphanumeric string specifying the residue name. This name denotes the residue under consideration. A block with this name must be defined in both the [from] and [to] force fields.

    • mandatory

  • [from]
    • The directive is followed by a single line containing an alphanumeric string corresponding to name of the origin (i.e. higher resolution) force field.

    • mandatory

  • [to]
    • The directive is followed by a single line containing an alphanumeric string corresponding to the name of the target (i.e. higher resolution) force field.

    • mandatory

  • [martini]
    • The directive is followed by any number of lines. Each line must contain space separated bead names.

    • mandatory

  • [atoms]
    • This directive introduces a section that can span multiple lines. Each line within this section must adhere to the following format:

      • An integer specifying the atom number.

      • An alphanumeric string corresponding to an atom name in the origin force field.

      • Any number of bead names. These beads must have been previously listed under the [martini] directive.

    • All atoms described by the referenced block should be described.

    • mandatory

  • [chiral]
    • Contains chirality specifications used for the original backwards program.

    • ignored

  • [trans]
    • Contains geometry specifications used for the original backwards program.

    • ignored

  • [out]
    • Contains geometry specifications used in the original backwards program.

    • ignored

Example of .map file

[ molecule ]
[ martini ]
[ atoms ]
 1     N    BB
 2    HN    BB
 3    CA    BB
 5    CB    SC1
 9     C    BB
10     O    BB

File structure (.mapping)

The file is structured into sections, each beginning with a directive enclosed in square brackets ([]).

Allowed directives .mapping

  • [modification]
    • Marks the beginning of a modification block. This directive does not require any following content.

    • mandatory

  • [from]
    • Followed by the name of the origin force-field (e.g., amber).

    • mandatory

  • [to]
    • Followed by the name of the target force-field (e.g., martini3001).

    • mandatory

  • [from blocks] and [to blocks]
    • Each followed by the name of the modification in the respective force fields

    • mandatory

  • [from nodes]
    • Lists all nodes that should be part of the mapping that are not yet described by [from block]

    • optional

  • [from edges]
    • Contains all edges that are part of the mapped fragment that are not described by [from block]. In particular, all edges concerning nodes in [from nodes] must be listed here.

    • optional

  • [mapping]
    • Contains pairs of atom names and bead names, describing the actual mapping between the high-resolution and coarse-grained representations of the modification.

Example file of .mapping file

Below is an example of a .mapping file:


[from blocks]
[to blocks]

[from nodes]

[from edges]