ProSelection: A Novel Algorithm to Select Proper Protein Structure Subsets for in Silico Target Identification and Drug Discovery Research

J Chem Inf Model. 2017 Nov 27;57(11):2686-2698. doi: 10.1021/acs.jcim.7b00277. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


Molecular docking is widely applied to computer-aided drug design and has become relatively mature in the recent decades. Application of docking in modeling varies from single lead compound optimization to large-scale virtual screening. The performance of molecular docking is highly dependent on the protein structures selected. It is especially challenging for large-scale target prediction research when multiple structures are available for a single target. Therefore, we have established ProSelection, a docking preferred-protein selection algorithm, in order to generate the proper structure subset(s). By the ProSelection algorithm, protein structures of "weak selectors" are filtered out whereas structures of "strong selectors" are kept. Specifically, the structure which has a good statistical performance of distinguishing active ligands from inactive ligands is defined as a strong selector. In this study, 249 protein structures of 14 autophagy-related targets are investigated. Surflex-dock was used as the docking engine to distinguish active and inactive compounds against these protein structures. Both t test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to distinguish the strong from the weak selectors based on the normality of the docking score distribution. The suggested docking score threshold for active ligands (SDA) was generated for each strong selector structure according to the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. The performance of ProSelection was further validated by predicting the potential off-targets of 43 U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved small molecule antineoplastic drugs. Overall, ProSelection will accelerate the computational work in protein structure selection and could be a useful tool for molecular docking, target prediction, and protein-chemical database establishment research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Databases, Protein
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Docking Simulation*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Ligands
  • Proteins