American Chemical Society
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De Novo Structure-Based Drug Design Using Deep Learning

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posted on 2021-11-18, 17:04 authored by Sowmya Ramaswamy Krishnan, Navneet Bung, Sarveswara Rao Vangala, Rajgopal Srinivasan, Gopalakrishnan Bulusu, Arijit Roy
In recent years, deep learning-based methods have emerged as promising tools for de novo drug design. Most of these methods are ligand-based, where an initial target-specific ligand data set is necessary to design potent molecules with optimized properties. Although there have been attempts to develop alternative ways to design target-specific ligand data sets, availability of such data sets remains a challenge while designing molecules against novel target proteins. In this work, we propose a deep learning-based method, where the knowledge of the active site structure of the target protein is sufficient to design new molecules. First, a graph attention model was used to learn the structure and features of the amino acids in the active site of proteins that are experimentally known to form protein–ligand complexes. Next, the learned active site features were used along with a pretrained generative model for conditional generation of new molecules. A bioactivity prediction model was then used in a reinforcement learning framework to optimize the conditional generative model. We validated our method against two well-studied proteins, Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2), where we produce molecules similar to the known inhibitors. The graph attention model could identify the probable key active site residues, which influenced the conditional molecule generator to design new molecules with pharmacophoric features similar to the known inhibitors.