AutoSite: an automated approach for pseudo-ligands prediction-from ligand-binding sites identification to predicting key ligand atoms

Bioinformatics. 2016 Oct 15;32(20):3142-3149. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btw367. Epub 2016 Jun 26.


Motivation: The identification of ligand-binding sites from a protein structure facilitates computational drug design and optimization, and protein function assignment. We introduce AutoSite: an efficient software tool for identifying ligand-binding sites and predicting pseudo ligand corresponding to each binding site identified. Binding sites are reported as clusters of 3D points called fills in which every point is labelled as hydrophobic or as hydrogen bond donor or acceptor. From these fills AutoSite derives feature points: a set of putative positions of hydrophobic-, and hydrogen-bond forming ligand atoms.

Results: We show that AutoSite identifies ligand-binding sites with higher accuracy than other leading methods, and produces fills that better matches the ligand shape and properties, than the fills obtained with a software program with similar capabilities, AutoLigand In addition, we demonstrate that for the Astex Diverse Set, the feature points identify 79% of hydrophobic ligand atoms, and 81% and 62% of the hydrogen acceptor and donor hydrogen ligand atoms interacting with the receptor, and predict 81.2% of water molecules mediating interactions between ligand and receptor. Finally, we illustrate potential uses of the predicted feature points in the context of lead optimization in drug discovery projects.

Availability and implementation: CONTACT: sanner@scripps.eduSupplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Ligands*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins
  • Software*


  • Ligands
  • Proteins