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A new protein binding pocket similarity measure based on comparison of clouds of atoms in 3D: application to ligand prediction.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Predicting which molecules can bind to a given binding site of a protein with known 3D structure is important to decipher the protein function, and useful in drug design. A classical assumption in structural biology is that proteins with similar 3D structures have related molecular functions, and therefore may bind similar ligands. However, proteins that do not display any overall sequence or structure similarity may also bind similar ligands if they contain similar binding sites. Quantitatively assessing the similarity between binding sites may therefore be useful to propose new ligands for a given pocket, based on those known for similar pockets. RESULTS: We propose a new method to quantify the similarity between binding pockets, and explore its relevance for ligand prediction. We represent each pocket by a cloud of atoms, and assess the similarity between two pockets by aligning their atoms in the 3D space and comparing the resulting configurations with a convolution kernel. Pocket alignment and comparison is possible even when the corresponding proteins share no sequence or overall structure similarities. In order to predict ligands for a given target pocket, we compare it to an ensemble of pockets with known ligands to identify the most similar pockets. We discuss two criteria to evaluate the performance of a binding pocket similarity measure in the context of ligand prediction, namely, area under ROC curve (AUC scores) and classification based scores. We show that the latter is better suited to evaluate the methods with respect to ligand prediction, and demonstrate the relevance of our new binding site similarity compared to existing similarity measures. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the relevance of the proposed method to identify ligands binding to known binding pockets. We also provide a new benchmark for future work in this field. The new method and the benchmark are available at
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Submitted on : Friday, January 27, 2012 - 1:02:27 PM
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Brice Hoffmann, Mikhail Zaslavskiy, Jean-Philippe Vert, Véronique Stoven. A new protein binding pocket similarity measure based on comparison of clouds of atoms in 3D: application to ligand prediction.. BMC Bioinformatics, BioMed Central, 2010, 11 (1), pp.99. ⟨10.1186/1471-2105-11-99⟩. ⟨inserm-00663528⟩



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