Relating Essential Proteins to Drug Side-Effects Using Canonical Component Analysis: A Structure-Based Approach

J Chem Inf Model. 2015 Jul 27;55(7):1483-94. doi: 10.1021/acs.jcim.5b00030. Epub 2015 Jul 16.


The molecular mechanism of many drug side-effects is unknown and difficult to predict. Previous methods for explaining side-effects have focused on known drug targets and their pathways. However, low affinity binding to proteins that are not usually considered drug targets may also drive side-effects. In order to assess these alternative targets, we used the 3D structures of 563 essential human proteins systematically to predict binding to 216 drugs. We first benchmarked our affinity predictions with available experimental data. We then combined singular value decomposition and canonical component analysis (SVD-CCA) to predict side-effects based on these novel target profiles. Our method predicts side-effects with good accuracy (average AUC: 0.82 for side effects present in <50% of drug labels). We also noted that side-effect frequency is the most important feature for prediction and can confound efforts at elucidating mechanism; our method allows us to remove the contribution of frequency and isolate novel biological signals. In particular, our analysis produces 2768 triplet associations between 50 essential proteins, 99 drugs, and 77 side-effects. Although experimental validation is difficult because many of our essential proteins do not have validated assays, we nevertheless attempted to validate a subset of these associations using experimental assay data. Our focus on essential proteins allows us to find potential associations that would likely be missed if we used recognized drug targets. Our associations provide novel insights about the molecular mechanisms of drug side-effects and highlight the need for expanded experimental efforts to investigate drug binding to proteins more broadly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Proteins