atomium is a Python library for opening and saving .pdb, .cif and .mmtf files, and presenting and manipulating the information contained within.

Loading Data

Whist you can use atomium to create models from scratch to build an entirely de novo structure, in practice you would generally use it to load molecular data from an existing file…

>>> import atomium
>>> pdb1 = atomium.open('../1LOL.pdb')
>>> mmtf1 = atomium.open('/structures/glucose.mmtf')
>>> cif1 = atomium.open('/structures/1XDA.cif')
>>> pdb2 = atomium.fetch('5HVD.pdb')
>>> cif2 = atomium.fetch('5HVD')

In that latter case, you don’t need the file to be saved locally - it will just go and grab the PDB with that code from the RCSB.

atomium will use the file extension you provide to decide how to parse it. If there isn’t one, or it doesn’t recognise the extension, it will peek at the file contents and try and guess whether it should be interpreted as .pdb, .cif or .mmtf.

Using Data

Once you’ve got your File object, what can you do with it?


There is various meta information contained within the File object.

>>> pdb1.title
>>> pdb1.deposition_date
datetime.date(2002, 5, 6)
>>> pdb1.keywords
>>> pdb1.classification
>>> pdb1.source_organism
>>> pdb1.resolution
>>> pdb1.rvalue
>>> pdb1.rfree

atomium doesn’t currently parse every bit of information from these files, but there is more than those shown above. See the full API docs for more details. In particular, you can access the processed intermediate MMCIF dictionary to get any attribute of these structures.

Models and Assembly

All .pdb files contain one or more models - little universes containing a molecular scene.

>>> pdb1.model
<Model (2 chains, 4 ligands)>
>>> pdb1.models
(<Model (2 chains, 4 ligands)>,)

Most just contain one - it’s generally those that come from NMR experiments which contain multiple models.

This model contains the ‘asymmetric unit’ - this is one or more protein (usually) chains arranged in space, which may not be how the molecule arranges itself in real life. It might just be how they arranged themselves in the experiment. To create the ‘real thing’ from the asymmetric unit, you use biological assemblies.

Most .pdb files contain one or more biological assemblies - instructions for how to create a more realistic structure from the chains present, which in atomium are accessed using assemblies.

In practice, what you need to know is that you can create a new model - not the one already there containing the asymmetric unit - as follows…

>>> pdb3 = atomium.fetch('1XDA')
>>> pdb3.model
<Model (8 chains, 16 ligands)>
>>> pdb3.generate_assembly(1)
<Model (2 chains, 4 ligands)>
>>> pdb3.generate_assembly(10)
<Model (6 chains, 12 ligands)>

Here you load a .pdb with multiple possible assemblies, have a quick look at the asymmetric unit with 1,842 atoms, and then generate two of its possible biological assemblies by passing in their IDs.

Model Contents

The basic structures within a model are chains, residues, ligands, and atoms.

>>> pdb1.model.chains()
{<Chain A (204 residues)>, <Chain B (214 residues)>}
>>> pdb1.model.chain('B')
<Chain B (214 residues)>
>>> pdb1.model.residues(name='TYR')
{<Residue TYR (A.37)>, <Residue TYR (B.1037)>, <Residue TYR (A.45)>, <Residu
e TYR (A.154)>, <Residue TYR (B.1206)>, <Residue TYR (B.1154)>, <Residue TYR
 (B.1045)>, <Residue TYR (A.206)>}
>>> pdb1.model.residues(name__regex='TYR|PRO')
{<Residue PRO (A.101)>, <Residue PRO (A.46)>, <Residue PRO (A.161)>, <Residu
e TYR (A.45)>, <Residue PRO (B.1046)>, <Residue TYR (A.154)>, <Residue TYR (
B.1206)>, <Residue TYR (B.1045)>, <Residue PRO (B.1189)>, <Residue TYR (A.37
)>, <Residue PRO (B.1129)>, <Residue PRO (B.1077)>, <Residue PRO (A.211)>, <
Residue PRO (B.1180)>, <Residue PRO (B.1157)>, <Residue PRO (B.1211)>, <Resi
due PRO (B.1228)>, <Residue PRO (B.1101)>, <Residue TYR (B.1154)>, <Residue
PRO (A.157)>, <Residue PRO (A.77)>, <Residue PRO (A.180)>, <Residue TYR (B.1
037)>, <Residue PRO (A.129)>, <Residue PRO (B.1161)>, <Residue TYR (A.206)>}
>>> pdb1.model.chain('B').residue('B.1206')
<Residue TYR (B.1206)>
>>> pdb1.model.ligands()
{<Ligand BU2 (A.5001)>, <Ligand XMP (A.2001)>, <Ligand BU2 (B.5002)>, <Ligan
d XMP (B.2002)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(name='BU2').atoms()
{<Atom 3196 (O3)>, <Atom 3192 (C1)>, <Atom 3193 (O1)>, <Atom 3197 (C4)>, <At
om 3194 (C2)>, <Atom 3195 (C3)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(name='BU2').atoms(mass__gt=12)
{<Atom 3196 (O3)>, <Atom 3192 (C1)>, <Atom 3193 (O1)>, <Atom 3197 (C4)>, <At
om 3194 (C2)>, <Atom 3195 (C3)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(name='BU2').atoms(mass__gt=14)
{<Atom 3196 (O3)>, <Atom 3193 (O1)>}

The examples above demonstrate atomium’s selection language. In the case of the molecules - Model, Chain, Residue and Ligand - you can pass in an id or name, or search by regex pattern with id__regex or name__regex.

These structures have an even more powerful syntax too - you can pass in any property such as charge=1, any comparitor of a property such as mass__lt=100, or any regex of a property such as name__regex='[^C]'.

For pairwise comparisons, structures also have the pairwise_atoms() generator which will yield all unique atom pairs in the structure. These can obviously get very big indeed - a 5000 atom PDB file would have about 12 million unique pairs.

Structures can be moved around and otherwise compared with each other…

>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B:2002').mass
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').formula
Counter({'C': 10, 'O': 9, 'N': 4, 'P': 1})
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B:2002').nearby_atoms(2.8)
{<Atom 3416 (O)>, <Atom 3375 (O)>, <Atom 1635 (OD1)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').nearby_atoms(2.8, name='OD1')
{<Atom 1635 (OD1)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').nearby_residues(2.8)
{<Residue ASP (B.1020)>}
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').nearby_structures(2.8, waters=True)
{<Residue ASP (B.1020)>, <Water HOH (B.3155)>, <Water HOH (B.3059)>}
>>> import math
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').rotate(math.pi / 2, 'x')
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').translate(10, 10, 15)
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').center_of_mass
(-9.886734282781484, -42.558415679537184, 77.33400578435568)
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').radius_of_gyration
>>> pdb1.model.ligand(id='B.2002').rmsd_with(pdb1.model.ligand(id='A.2001'))

Here we look at one of the ligands, identify its mass and molecular formula, look at what atoms are within 2.8 Angstroms of it, and what residues are within that same distance, rotate it and translate it through space, see where its new center of mass is, and then finally get its RMSD with the other similar ligand in the model.

The Atom objects themselves have their own useful properties.

>>> pdb1.model.atom(97)
<Atom 97 (CA)>
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).mass
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).anisotropy
[0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0]
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).bvalue
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).location
(-12.739, 31.201, 43.016)
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).distance_to(pdb1.model.atom(1))
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).nearby_atoms(2)
{<Atom 96 (N)>, <Atom 98 (C)>, <Atom 100 (CB)>}
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).is_metal
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).structure
<Residue ASN (A.23)>
>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).chain
<Chain A (204 residues)>

Chains are a bit different from other structures in that they are iterable, indexable, and return their residues as a tuple, not a set…

>>> pdb1.model.atom(97).chain
<Chain A (204 residues)>
>>> pdb1.model.chain('A')
<Chain A (204 residues)>
>>> len(pdb1.model.chain('A'))
>>> pdb1.model.chain('A')[10]
<Residue LEU (A.21)>
>>> pdb1.model.chain('A').residues()[:5]
(<Residue VAL (A.11)>, <Residue MET (A.12)>, <Residue ASN (A.13)>, <Residue
ARG (A.14)>, <Residue LEU (A.15)>)
>>> pdb1.model.chain('A').sequence

The sequence is the ‘real’ sequence that exists in nature. Some of them will be missing from the model for practical reasons.

Residues can generate name information based on their three letter code, and are aware of their immediate neighbors.

>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100')
<Residue PHE (A.100)>
>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100').name
>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100').code
>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100').full_name
>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100').next
<Residue PRO (A.101)>
>>> pdb1.model.residue('A.100').previous
<Residue GLY (A.99)>

Saving Data

A model can be saved to file using:

>>> model.save("new.cif")
>>> model.save("new.pdb")

Any structure can be saved in this way, so you can save chains or molecules to their own seperate files if you so wish.

>>> model.chain("A").save("chainA.pdb")
>>> model.chain("B").save("chainB.cif")
>>> model.ligand(name="XMP").save("ligand.mmtf")

Note that if the model you are saving is one from a biological assembly, it will likely have many duplicated IDs, so saving to file may create unexpected results.