- DOGS: reaction-driven de novo design of bioactive compounds (2012)
- We present a computational method for the reaction-based de novo design of drug-like molecules. The software DOGS (Design of Genuine Structures) features a ligand-based strategy for automated ‘in silico’ assembly of potentially novel bioactive compounds. The quality of the designed compounds is assessed by a graph kernel method measuring their similarity to known bioactive reference ligands in terms of structural and pharmacophoric features. We implemented a deterministic compound construction procedure that explicitly considers compound synthesizability, based on a compilation of 25'144 readily available synthetic building blocks and 58 established reaction principles. This enables the software to suggest a synthesis route for each designed compound. Two prospective case studies are presented together with details on the algorithm and its implementation. De novo designed ligand candidates for the human histamine H4 receptor and γ-secretase were synthesized as suggested by the software. The computational approach proved to be suitable for scaffold-hopping from known ligands to novel chemotypes, and for generating bioactive molecules with drug-like properties.
- Bioassays to monitor taspase1 function for the identification of pharmacogenetic inhibitors (2011)
- Background: Threonine Aspartase 1 (Taspase1) mediates cleavage of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) protein and leukemia provoking MLL-fusions. In contrast to other proteases, the understanding of Taspase1's (patho)biological relevance and function is limited, since neither small molecule inhibitors nor cell based functional assays for Taspase1 are currently available. Methodology/Findings: Efficient cell-based assays to probe Taspase1 function in vivo are presented here. These are composed of glutathione S-transferase, autofluorescent protein variants, Taspase1 cleavage sites and rational combinations of nuclear import and export signals. The biosensors localize predominantly to the cytoplasm, whereas expression of biologically active Taspase1 but not of inactive Taspase1 mutants or of the protease Caspase3 triggers their proteolytic cleavage and nuclear accumulation. Compared to in vitro assays using recombinant components the in vivo assay was highly efficient. Employing an optimized nuclear translocation algorithm, the triple-color assay could be adapted to a high-throughput microscopy platform (Z'factor = 0.63). Automated high-content data analysis was used to screen a focused compound library, selected by an in silico pharmacophor screening approach, as well as a collection of fungal extracts. Screening identified two compounds, N-[2-[(4-amino-6-oxo-3H-pyrimidin-2-yl)sulfanyl]ethyl]benzenesulfonamideand 2-benzyltriazole-4,5-dicarboxylic acid, which partially inhibited Taspase1 cleavage in living cells. Additionally, the assay was exploited to probe endogenous Taspase1 in solid tumor cell models and to identify an improved consensus sequence for efficient Taspase1 cleavage. This allowed the in silico identification of novel putative Taspase1 targets. Those include the FERM Domain-Containing Protein 4B, the Tyrosine-Protein Phosphatase Zeta, and DNA Polymerase Zeta. Cleavage site recognition and proteolytic processing of these substrates were verified in the context of the biosensor. Conclusions: The assay not only allows to genetically probe Taspase1 structure function in vivo, but is also applicable for high-content screening to identify Taspase1 inhibitors. Such tools will provide novel insights into Taspase1's function and its potential therapeutic relevance.
- Spherical harmonics coeffcients for ligand-based virtual screening of cyclooxygenase inhibitors (2011)
- Background: Molecular descriptors are essential for many applications in computational chemistry, such as ligand-based similarity searching. Spherical harmonics have previously been suggested as comprehensive descriptors of molecular structure and properties. We investigate a spherical harmonics descriptor for shape-based virtual screening. Methodology/Principal Findings: We introduce and validate a partially rotation-invariant three-dimensional molecular shape descriptor based on the norm of spherical harmonics expansion coefficients. Using this molecular representation, we parameterize molecular surfaces, i.e., isosurfaces of spatial molecular property distributions. We validate the shape descriptor in a comprehensive retrospective virtual screening experiment. In a prospective study, we virtually screen a large compound library for cyclooxygenase inhibitors, using a self-organizing map as a pre-filter and the shape descriptor for candidate prioritization. Conclusions/Significance: 12 compounds were tested in vitro for direct enzyme inhibition and in a whole blood assay. Active compounds containing a triazole scaffold were identified as direct cyclooxygenase-1 inhibitors. This outcome corroborates the usefulness of spherical harmonics for representation of molecular shape in virtual screening of large compound collections. The combination of pharmacophore and shape-based filtering of screening candidates proved to be a straightforward approach to finding novel bioactive chemotypes with minimal experimental effort.
- Unterwegs in chemischen Räumen : Chemieinformatik und Moleküldesign (2003)
- Wie findet man einen neuen Wirkstoff? Die pharmazeutisch-chemische Forschung steht mit diesem Vorhaben vor einer scheinbar unlösbaren Aufgabe, denn der "chemische Raum" aller wirkstoffartigen Moleküle ist unvorstellbar groß. So wurde geschätzt, dass man prinzipiell aus 1060 bis 10100 verschiedenen Verbindungen die geeigneten Kandidaten auswählen kann. Zum Vergleich: Seit dem Urknall sollen "nur" etwa 10 hoch 18 Sekunden, etwa 14 Milliarden Jahre, vergangen sein. Dies bedeutet, dass der chemische Raum praktisch unendlich ist. Aus dieser Überlegung lassen sich zumindest zwei Schlussfolgerungen ziehen: Zum einen gibt es die begründete Hoffnung, dass ein Molekül mit der gewünschten Aktivität existiert, zum anderen stellt sich die Frage, wie diese unvorstellbar große Zahl chemischer Verbindungen systematisch durchmustert werden kann? Doch die Situation ist nicht so hoffnungslos, wie sie auf den ersten Blick erscheint. Dies zeigt die erfolgreiche Entwicklung immer neuer Medikamente. Das Forschungsgebiet der Chemieinformatik befasst sich mit der Entwicklung von intelligenten Lösungsansätzen, die Chemikern bei dieser Suche nach den "Nadeln im riesigen Heuhaufen" helfen können.
- Correction: Prediction of type III secretion signals in genomes of gram-negative bacteria (2009)
- This corrects the article "Prediction of Type III Secretion Signals in Genomes of Gram-Negative Bacteria" in PLoS ONE, e5917. urn:nbn:de:hebis:30-82663 A file was unintentionally omitted from the Supporting Information section of the published article: "Text S1. Training data." The file can be viewed here.
- Prediction of type III secretion signals in genomes of gram-negative bacteria (2009)
- Background: Pathogenic bacteria infecting both animals as well as plants use various mechanisms to transport virulence factors across their cell membranes and channel these proteins into the infected host cell. The type III secretion system represents such a mechanism. Proteins transported via this pathway (‘‘effector proteins’’) have to be distinguished from all other proteins that are not exported from the bacterial cell. Although a special targeting signal at the N-terminal end of effector proteins has been proposed in literature its exact characteristics remain unknown. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, we demonstrate that the signals encoded in the sequences of type III secretion system effectors can be consistently recognized and predicted by machine learning techniques. Known protein effectors were compiled from the literature and sequence databases, and served as training data for artificial neural networks and support vector machine classifiers. Common sequence features were most pronounced in the first 30 amino acids of the effector sequences. Classification accuracy yielded a cross-validated Matthews correlation of 0.63 and allowed for genome-wide prediction of potential type III secretion system effectors in 705 proteobacterial genomes (12% predicted candidates protein), their chromosomes (11%) and plasmids (13%), as well as 213 Firmicute genomes (7%). Conclusions/Significance: We present a signal prediction method together with comprehensive survey of potential type III secretion system effectors extracted from 918 published bacterial genomes. Our study demonstrates that the analyzed signal features are common across a wide range of species, and provides a substantial basis for the identification of exported pathogenic proteins as targets for future therapeutic intervention. The prediction software is publicly accessible from our web server ( www.modlab.org ).
- Domain organization of long autotransporter signal sequences (2009)
- Bacterial autotransporters represent a diverse family of proteins that autonomously translocate across the inner membrane of Gram-negative bacteria via the Sec complex and across the outer bacterial membrane. They often possess exceptionally long N-terminal signal sequences. We analyzed 90 long signal sequences of bacterial autotransporters and members of the two-partner secretion pathway in silico and describe common domain organization found in 79 of these sequences. The domains are in agreement with previously published experimental data. Our algorithmic approach allows for the systematic identification of functionally different domains in long signal sequences. Keywords: bacterial autotransporter, sequence analysis, pattern, protein targeting, signal peptide, protein trafficking
- Inhibitors of Helicobacter pylori protease HtrA found by "virtual ligand" screening combat bacterial invasion of epithelia (2011)
- Background: The human pathogen Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a main cause for gastric inflammation and cancer. Increasing bacterial resistance against antibiotics demands for innovative strategies for therapeutic intervention. Methodology/Principal Findings: We present a method for structure-based virtual screening that is based on the comprehensive prediction of ligand binding sites on a protein model and automated construction of a ligand-receptor interaction map. Pharmacophoric features of the map are clustered and transformed in a correlation vector (‘virtual ligand’) for rapid virtual screening of compound databases. This computer-based technique was validated for 18 different targets of pharmaceutical interest in a retrospective screening experiment. Prospective screening for inhibitory agents was performed for the protease HtrA from the human pathogen H. pylori using a homology model of the target protein. Among 22 tested compounds six block E-cadherin cleavage by HtrA in vitro and result in reduced scattering and wound healing of gastric epithelial cells, thereby preventing bacterial infiltration of the epithelium. Conclusions/Significance: This study demonstrates that receptor-based virtual screening with a permissive (‘fuzzy’) pharmacophore model can help identify small bioactive agents for combating bacterial infection.
- The plasmodium export element revisited (2008)
- We performed a bioinformatical analysis of protein export elements (PEXEL) in the putative proteome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. A protein family-specific conservation of physicochemical residue profiles was found for PEXEL-flanking sequence regions. We demonstrate that the family members can be clustered based on the flanking regions only and display characteristic hydrophobicity patterns. This raises the possibility that the flanking regions may contain additional information for a family-specific role of PEXEL. We further show that signal peptide cleavage results in a positional alignment of PEXEL from both proteins with, and without, a signal peptide.