Scientific publications

Development and Validation of Molecular Overlays Derived from Three-Dimensional Hydrophobic Similarity with PharmScreen

Aug 27, 2018 | Magazine: Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling

Javier Vázquez, Alessandro Deplano, Albert Herrero, Tiziana Ginex, Enric Gibert, Obdulia Rabal, Julen Oyarzabal, Enric Herrero, F Javier Luque


Molecular alignment is a standard procedure for three-dimensional (3D) similarity measurements and pharmacophore elucidation. This process is influenced by several factors, such as the physicochemical descriptors utilized to account for the molecular determinants of biological activity and the reference templates.

Relying on the hypothesis that the maximal achievable binding affinity for a drug-like molecule is largely due to desolvation, we explore a novel strategy for 3D molecular overlays that exploits the partitioning of molecular hydrophobicity into atomic contributions in conjunction with information about the distribution of hydrogen-bond (HB) donor/acceptor groups. A brief description of the method, as implemented in the software package PharmScreen, including the derivation of the fractional hydrophobic contributions within the quantum mechanical version of the Miertus-Scrocco-Tomasi (MST) continuum model, and the procedure utilized for the optimal superposition between molecules, is presented.

The computational procedure is calibrated by using a data set of 402 molecules pertaining to 14 distinct targets taken from the literature and validated against the AstraZeneca test, which comprises 121 experimentally derived sets of molecular overlays. The results point out the suitability of the MST-based hydrophobic parameters for generating molecular overlays, as correct predictions were obtained for 94%, 79%, and 54% of the molecules classified into easy, moderate, and hard sets, respectively.

Moreover, the results point out that this accuracy is attained at a much lower degree of identity between the templates used by hydrophobic/HB fields and electrostatic/steric ones. These findings support the usefulness of the hydrophobic/HB descriptors to generate complementary overlays that may be valuable to rationalize structure-activity relationships and for virtual screening campaigns.

CITATION  J Chem Inf Model. 2018 Aug 27;58(8):1596-1609. doi: 10.1021/acs.jcim.8b00216. Epub 2018 Jul 30.