Tutorial:Other Tools

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There are a number of included tools that have been built using Open Babel, including obprop, obgrep, obchiral, obfit, and obrotate.


obprop calculates a couple of simple molecular properties (e.g., molecular mass and ring count).

PROMPT> obprop ' mymols.sdf'  > 'outputfile.txt'
PROMPT>  cat  outputfile.txt
name MOL_00000067
mol_weight 191.989
num_rings 1
name MOL_00000083
mol_weight 191.989
num_rings 1
name MOL_00000105
mol_weight 191.989
num_rings 1
name MOL_00000296
mol_weight 207.077
num_rings 1


obgrep can be used for structure-based searching for molecules inside multi-molecule files (e.g., SMILES, SDF, etc.) or across multiple files.

      -c    Print the number of matches

      -f    Full match, print matching-molecules only when the number of heavy
            atoms is also equal to the number of atoms in the SMARTS pattern

            Specifies input and output format,

      -n    Only print the name of the molecules

      -t #  Print a molecule only if the pattern occurs # times inside the mol-

      -v    Invert the matching, print non-matching molecules

To print just the names of those molecules containing bromobenzne:

PROMPT>  obgrep  -n 'c1ccccc1Br'  'mymols.sdf'

To simply count the number of molecules that match:

PROMPT>  obgrep  -c -t 2 'c1ccccc1Br'  'mymols.sdf'

To only select those compounds where the pattern occurs twice use:

PROMPT>  obgrep  -n -t 2 'c1ccccc1Br'  'mymols.sdf'


obchiral prints molecular chirality information:

PROMPT>  mymols.sdf
Molecule 1:  mol_1
Atom 2 Is Chiral C3
Volume= 8.35262
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0
Molecule 2: mol_2
Atom 2 Is Chiral C3
Volume= -8.43506
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0
Atom 3 Is Chiral N3
Volume= 2.15701
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0
Molecule 3:  mol_3
Atom 2 Is Chiral C3
Volume= -8.37849
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0
Atom 3 Is Chiral N3
Volume= 1.84595
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0
Atom 19 Is Chiral C3
Volume= 10.331
Atom refs= 1 2 3 4
Clockwise? 0

This information can be piped into a file like this:

PROMPT>  obchiral 'mymols.sdf' > outputfile'.txt


obfit will superimpose molecules based on a SMARTS pattern. The atoms used to fit the two molecules are defined by the SMARTS pattern given by the user. It is useful to align congeneric series of molecules on a common structural scaffold for 3D-QSAR studies. It can also be useful for displaying the results of conformational generation.

PROMPT>  obfit ' c1ccccc1Br ' static.sdf mymols.sdf


obrotate will batch-rotate dihedral angles matching SMARTS patterns. The obrotate program rotates the torsional (dihedral) angle of a specified bond in molecules to that defined by the user. In other words, it does the same as a user setting an angle in a molecular modelling package, but much faster and in batch mode (i.e. across multiple molecules in a file). The four atom IDs required are indexes into the SMARTS pattern, which starts at atom 0 (zero). The angle supplied is in degrees. The two atoms used to set the dihedral angle <atom1> and <atom4> do not need to be connected to the atoms of the bond <atom2> and <atom3> in any way. The order of the atoms matters -- the portion of the molecule attached to <atom1> and <atom2> remain fixed, but the portion bonded to <atom3> and & <atom4> moves. Let's say that you want to define the conformation of a large number of molecules with a pyridyl scaffold and substituted with an aliphatic chain at the 3-position, for example for docking or 3D-QSAR purposes.

To set the value of the first dihedral angle to 90 degrees:

PROMPT>  obrotate 'c1ccncc1CCC' pyridines.sdf 5 6 7 8 90

Here 6 and 7 define the bond to rotate in the SMARTS patter, i.e., c1-C and atoms 5 and 8 define the particular dihedral angle to rotate.

Since the atoms to define the dihedral do not need to be directly connected, the nitrogen in the pyridine can be used:

PROMPT>  obrotate 'c1ccncc1CCC' pyridines.sdf 4 6 7 8 90

Keep the pyridyl ring fixed and moves the aliphatic chain:

PROMPT>  obrotate 'c1ccncc1CCC' pyridines.sdf 5 6 7 8 90

Keep the aliphatic chain fixed and move the pyridyl ring:

PROMPT>  obrotate 'c1ccncc1CCC' pyridines.sdf 8 7 6 5 90