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Spatial chemical distance based on atomic property fields


Similarity of compound chemical structures often leads to close pharmacological profiles, including binding to the same protein targets. The opposite, however, is not always true, as distinct chemical scaffolds can exhibit similar pharmacology as well. Therefore, relying on chemical similarity to known binders in search for novel chemicals targeting the same protein artificially narrows down the results and makes lead hopping impossible. In this study we attempt to design a compound similarity/distance measure that better captures structural aspects of their pharmacology and molecular interactions. The measure is based on our recently published method for compound spatial alignment with atomic property fields as a generalized 3D pharmacophoric potential. We optimized contributions of different atomic properties for better discrimination of compound pairs with the same pharmacology from those with different pharmacology using Partial Least Squares regression. Our proposed similarity measure was then tested for its ability to discriminate pharmacologically similar pairs from decoys on a large diverse dataset of 115 protein–ligand complexes. Compared to 2D Tanimoto and Shape Tanimoto approaches, our new approach led to improvement in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve values in 66 and 58% of domains respectively. The improvement was particularly high for the previously problematic cases (weak performance of the 2D Tanimoto and Shape Tanimoto measures) with original AUC values below 0.8. In fact for these cases we obtained improvement in 86% of domains compare to 2D Tanimoto measure and 85% compare to Shape Tanimoto measure. The proposed spatial chemical distance measure can be used in virtual ligand screening.

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