In silico binary classification QSAR models based on 4D-fingerprints and MOE descriptors for prediction of hERG blockage

J Chem Inf Model. 2010 Jul 26;50(7):1304-18. doi: 10.1021/ci100081j.


Blockage of the human ether-a-go-go related gene (hERG) potassium ion channel is a major factor related to cardiotoxicity. Hence, drugs binding to this channel have become an important biological end point in side effects screening. A set of 250 structurally diverse compounds screened for hERG activity from the literature was assembled using a set of reliability filters. This data set was used to construct a set of two-state hERG QSAR models. The descriptor pool used to construct the models consisted of 4D-fingerprints generated from the thermodynamic distribution of conformer states available to a molecule, 204 traditional 2D descriptors and 76 3D VolSurf-like descriptors computed using the Molecular Operating Environment (MOE) software. One model is a continuous partial least-squares (PLS) QSAR hERG binding model. Another related model is an optimized binary classification QSAR model that classifies compounds as active or inactive. This binary model achieves 91% accuracy over a large range of molecular diversity spanning the training set. Two external test sets were constructed. One test set is the condensed PubChem bioassay database containing 876 compounds, and the other test set consists of 106 additional compounds found in the literature. Both of the test sets were used to validate the binary QSAR model. The binary QSAR model permits a structural interpretation of possible sources for hERG activity. In particular, the presence of a polar negative group at a distance of 6-8 A from a hydrogen bond donor in a compound is predicted to be a quite structure-specific pharmacophore that increases hERG blockage. Since a data set of high chemical diversity was used to construct the binary model, it is applicable for performing general virtual hERG screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbolines / chemistry
  • Carbolines / pharmacology
  • Cardiotoxins / chemistry
  • Cardiotoxins / pharmacology
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical*
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cocaine / chemistry
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nicotine / chemistry
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Software


  • Carbolines
  • Cardiotoxins
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels
  • alosetron
  • anhydroecgonine methyl ester
  • Nicotine
  • Cocaine