The process of discovering new drugs is a lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process. Modern day drug discovery relies heavily on the rapid identification of novel ‘targets’, usually proteins that can be modulated by small molecule drugs to cure or minimise the effects of a disease. Of the 20,000 proteins currently reported as comprising the human proteome, just under a quarter of these can potentially be modulated by known small molecules Storing information in curated, actively maintained drug discovery databases can help researchers access current drug discovery information quickly. However with the increase in the amount of data generated from both experimental and in silico efforts, databases can become very large very quickly and information retrieval from them can become a challenge. The development of database tools that facilitate rapid information retrieval is important to keep up with the growth of databases.
We have developed a Gene Ontology-based navigation tool (Gene Ontology Tree) to help users retrieve biological information to single protein targets in the ChEMBL drug discovery database. 99 % of single protein targets in ChEMBL have at least one GO annotation associated with them. There are 12,500 GO terms associated to 6200 protein targets in the ChEMBL database resulting in a total of 140,000 annotations. The slim we have created, the ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’ allows broad categorisation of the biology of 90 % of the protein targets using just 300 high level, informative GO terms.
We used the GO slim method of assigning fewer higher level GO groupings to numerous very specific lower level terms derived from the GOA to describe a set of GO terms relevant to proteins in ChEMBL. We then used the slim created to provide a web based tool that allows a quick and easy navigation of protein target space. Terms from the GO are used to capture information on protein molecular function, biological process and subcellular localisations. The ChEMBL database also provides compound information for small molecules that have been tested for their effects on these protein targets. The ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’ provides a means of firstly describing the biology of protein drug targets and secondly allows users to easily establish a connection between biological and chemical information regarding drugs and drug targets in ChEMBL.
The ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’ is available as a browsable ‘Gene Ontology Tree’ on the ChEMBL site under the browse targets tab (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/chembl/target/browser). A ChEMBL protein target slim OBO file containing the GO slim terms pertinent to ChEMBL is available from the GOC website (http://geneontology.org/page/go-slim-and-subset-guide).
We have created a protein target navigation tool based on the ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’. The ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’ provides a way of browsing protein targets in ChEMBL using high level GO terms that describe the molecular functions, processes and subcellular localisations of protein drug targets in drug discovery. The tool also allows user to establish a link between ontological groupings representing protein target biology to relevant compound information in ChEMBL. We have demonstrated by the use of a simple example how the ‘ChEMBL protein target slim’ can be used to link biological processes with drug information based on the information in the ChEMBL database. The tool has potential to aid in areas of drug discovery such as drug repurposing studies or drug-disease-protein pathways.