In silico protein–ligand binding prediction is an ongoing area of research in computational chemistry and machine learning based drug discovery, as an accurate predictive model could greatly reduce the time and resources necessary for the detection and prioritization of possible drug candidates. Proteochemometric modeling (PCM) attempts to create an accurate model of the protein–ligand interaction space by combining explicit protein and ligand descriptors. This requires the creation of information-rich, uniform and computer interpretable representations of proteins and ligands. Previous studies in PCM modeling rely on pre-defined, handcrafted feature extraction methods, and many methods use protein descriptors that require alignment or are otherwise specific to a particular group of related proteins. However, recent advances in representation learning have shown that unsupervised machine learning can be used to generate embeddings that outperform complex, human-engineered representations. Several different embedding methods for proteins and molecules have been developed based on various language-modeling methods. Here, we demonstrate the utility of these unsupervised representations and compare three protein embeddings and two compound embeddings in a fair manner. We evaluate performance on various splits of a benchmark dataset, as well as on an internal dataset of protein–ligand binding activities and find that unsupervised-learned representations significantly outperform handcrafted representations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.