MANORAA: A machine learning platform to guide protein-ligand design by anchors and influential distances

Structure. 2022 Jan 6;30(1):181-189.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2021.09.004. Epub 2021 Oct 5.


The MANORAA platform uses structure-based approaches to provide information on drug design originally derived from mapping tens of thousands of amino acids on a grid. In-depth analyses of the pockets, frequently occurring atoms, influential distances, and active-site boundaries are used for the analysis of active sites. The algorithms derived provide model equations that can predict whether changes in distances, such as contraction or expansion, will result in improved binding affinity. The algorithm is confirmed using kinetic studies of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), together with two DHFR-TS crystal structures. Empirical analyses of 881 crystal structures involving 180 ligands are used to interpret protein-ligand binding affinities. MANORAA links to major biological databases for web-based analysis of drug design. The frequency of atoms inside the main protease structures, including those from SARS-CoV-2, shows how the rigid part of the ligand can be used as a probe for molecular design (

Keywords: DHFR; SARS-CoV-2; binding affinity prediction from distance; drug design platform; influential distance; main protease; methotrexate; pocket design; structural conservation; trimethoprim.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Machine Learning*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Pandemics
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Domains*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / chemistry
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Trimethoprim / chemistry
  • Trimethoprim / metabolism


  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • Trimethoprim
  • Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase