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Analyzing protein binding sites provides detailed insights into the biological processes proteins are involved in, e.g., into drug-target interactions, and so is of crucial importance in drug discovery. Herein, we present novel alignment-independent binding site descriptors based on DrugScore potential fields. The potential fields are transformed to a set of information-rich descriptors using a series expansion in 3D Zernike polynomials. The resulting Zernike descriptors show a promising performance in detecting similarities among proteins with low pairwise sequence identities that bind identical ligands, as well as within subfamilies of one target class. Furthermore, the Zernike descriptors are robust against structural variations among protein binding sites. Finally, the Zernike descriptors show a high data compression power, and computing similarities between binding sites based on these descriptors is highly efficient. Consequently, the Zernike descriptors are a useful tool for computational binding site analysis, e.g., to predict the function of novel proteins, off-targets for drug candidates, or novel targets for known drugs.


Britta Nisius, Holger Gohlke. Alignment-independent comparison of binding sites based on DrugScore potential fields encoded by 3D Zernike descriptors. Journal of chemical information and modeling. 2012 Sep 24;52(9):2339-47

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PMID: 22881363

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