Motivation: Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are a promising, but challenging target for pharmaceutical intervention. One approach for addressing these difficult targets is the rational design of small-molecule inhibitors that mimic the chemical and physical properties of small clusters of key residues at the protein-protein interface. The identification of appropriate clusters of interface residues provides starting points for inhibitor design and supports an overall assessment of the susceptibility of PPIs to small-molecule inhibition.
Results: We extract Small-Molecule Inhibitor Starting Points (SMISPs) from protein-ligand and protein-protein complexes in the Protein Data Bank (PDB). These SMISPs are used to train two distinct classifiers, a support vector machine and an easy to interpret exhaustive rule classifier. Both classifiers achieve better than 70% leave-one-complex-out cross-validation accuracy and correctly predict SMISPs of known PPI inhibitors not in the training set. A PDB-wide analysis suggests that nearly half of all PPIs may be susceptible to small-molecule inhibition.