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1.  Predicting Drug-induced Hepatotoxicity Using QSAR and Toxicogenomics Approaches 
Chemical research in toxicology  2011;24(8):1251-1262.
Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) modeling and toxicogenomics are used independently as predictive tools in toxicology. In this study, we evaluated the power of several statistical models for predicting drug hepatotoxicity in rats using different descriptors of drug molecules, namely their chemical descriptors and toxicogenomic profiles. The records were taken from the Toxicogenomics Project rat liver microarray database containing information on 127 drugs (http://toxico.nibio.go.jp/datalist.html). The model endpoint was hepatotoxicity in the rat following 28 days of exposure, established by liver histopathology and serum chemistry. First, we developed multiple conventional QSAR classification models using a comprehensive set of chemical descriptors and several classification methods (k nearest neighbor, support vector machines, random forests, and distance weighted discrimination). With chemical descriptors alone, external predictivity (Correct Classification Rate, CCR) from 5-fold external cross-validation was 61%. Next, the same classification methods were employed to build models using only toxicogenomic data (24h after a single exposure) treated as biological descriptors. The optimized models used only 85 selected toxicogenomic descriptors and had CCR as high as 76%. Finally, hybrid models combining both chemical descriptors and transcripts were developed; their CCRs were between 68 and 77%. Although the accuracy of hybrid models did not exceed that of the models based on toxicogenomic data alone, the use of both chemical and biological descriptors enriched the interpretation of the models. In addition to finding 85 transcripts that were predictive and highly relevant to the mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury, chemical structural alerts for hepatotoxicity were also identified. These results suggest that concurrent exploration of the chemical features and acute treatment-induced changes in transcript levels will both enrich the mechanistic understanding of sub-chronic liver injury and afford models capable of accurate prediction of hepatotoxicity from chemical structure and short-term assay results.
doi:10.1021/tx200148a
PMCID: PMC4281093  PMID: 21699217
Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR) modeling; toxicogenomics; biological descriptors; hepatotoxicity
2.  IDENTIFICATION OF PUTATIVE ESTROGEN RECEPTOR-MEDIATED ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS USING QSAR- AND STRUCTURE-BASED VIRTUAL SCREENING APPROACHES 
Identification of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals is one of the important goals of environmental chemical hazard screening. We report on the development of validated in silico predictors of chemicals likely to cause Estrogen Receptor (ER)-mediated endocrine disruption to facilitate their prioritization for future screening. A database of relative binding affinity of a large number of ERα and/or ERβ ligands was assembled (546 for ERα and 137 for ERβ). Both single-task learning (STL) and multi-task learning (MTL) continuous Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSAR) models were developed for predicting ligand binding affinity to ERα or ERβ. High predictive accuracy was achieved for ERα binding affinity (MTL R2=0.71, STL R2=0.73). For ERβ binding affinity, MTL models were significantly more predictive (R2=0.53, p<0.05) than STL models. In addition, docking studies were performed on a set of ER agonists/antagonists (67 agonists and 39 antagonists for ERα, 48 agonists and 32 antagonists for ERβ, supplemented by putative decoys/non-binders) using the following ER structures (in complexes with respective ligands) retrieved from the Protein Data Bank: ERα agonist (PDB ID: 1L2I), ERα antagonist (PDB ID: 3DT3), ERβ agonist (PDB ID: 2NV7), ERβ antagonist (PDB ID: 1L2J). We found that all four ER conformations discriminated their corresponding ligands from presumed non-binders. Finally, both QSAR models and ER structures were employed in parallel to virtually screen several large libraries of environmental chemicals to derive a ligand- and structure-based prioritized list of putative estrogenic compounds to be used for in vitro and in vivo experimental validation.
doi:10.1016/j.taap.2013.04.032
PMCID: PMC3775906  PMID: 23707773
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals; Estrogen Receptor; Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships modeling; Multi-Task Learning; Docking; Virtual Screening
3.  Integrative Chemical-Biological Read-Across Approach for Chemical Hazard Classification 
Chemical research in toxicology  2013;26(8):10.1021/tx400110f.
Traditional read-across approaches typically rely on the chemical similarity principle to predict chemical toxicity; however, the accuracy of such predictions is often inadequate due to the underlying complex mechanisms of toxicity. Here we report on the development of a hazard classification and visualization method that draws upon both chemical structural similarity and comparisons of biological responses to chemicals measured in multiple short-term assays (”biological” similarity). The Chemical-Biological Read-Across (CBRA) approach infers each compound's toxicity from those of both chemical and biological analogs whose similarities are determined by the Tanimoto coefficient. Classification accuracy of CBRA was compared to that of classical RA and other methods using chemical descriptors alone, or in combination with biological data. Different types of adverse effects (hepatotoxicity, hepatocarcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and acute lethality) were classified using several biological data types (gene expression profiling and cytotoxicity screening). CBRA-based hazard classification exhibited consistently high external classification accuracy and applicability to diverse chemicals. Transparency of the CBRA approach is aided by the use of radial plots that show the relative contribution of analogous chemical and biological neighbors. Identification of both chemical and biological features that give rise to the high accuracy of CBRA-based toxicity prediction facilitates mechanistic interpretation of the models.
doi:10.1021/tx400110f
PMCID: PMC3818153  PMID: 23848138
4.  Human intestinal transporter database: QSAR modeling and virtual profiling of drug uptake, efflux and interactions 
Pharmaceutical research  2012;30(4):996-1007.
Purpose
Membrane transporters mediate many biological effects of chemicals and play a major role in pharmacokinetics and drug resistance. The selection of viable drug candidates among biologically active compounds requires the assessment of their transporter interaction profiles.
Methods
Using public sources, we have assembled and curated the largest, to our knowledge, human intestinal transporter database (>5,000 interaction entries for >3,700 molecules). This data was used to develop thoroughly validated classification Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) models of transport and/or inhibition of several major transporters including MDR1, BCRP, MRP1-4, PEPT1, ASBT, OATP2B1, OCT1, and MCT1.
Results & Conclusions
QSAR models have been developed with advanced machine learning techniques such as Support Vector Machines, Random Forest, and k Nearest Neighbors using Dragon and MOE chemical descriptors. These models afforded high external prediction accuracies of 71–100% estimated by 5-fold external validation, and showed hit retrieval rates with up to 20-fold enrichment in the virtual screening of DrugBank compounds. The compendium of predictive QSAR models developed in this study can be used for virtual profiling of drug candidates and/or environmental agents with the optimal transporter profiles.
doi:10.1007/s11095-012-0935-x
PMCID: PMC3596480  PMID: 23269503
membrane transport proteins; ADMET; drug transport; permeability; efflux
7.  The Discovery of Novel Antimalarial Compounds Enabled by QSAR-based Virtual Screening 
Quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models have been developed for a dataset of 3133 compounds defined as either active or inactive against P. falciparum. Since the dataset was strongly biased towards inactive compounds, different sampling approaches were employed to balance the ratio of actives vs. inactives, and models were rigorously validated using both internal and external validation approaches. The balanced accuracy for assessing the antimalarial activities of 70 external compounds was between 87% and 100% depending on the approach used to balance the dataset. Virtual screening of the ChemBridge database using QSAR models identified 176 putative antimalarial compounds that were submitted for experimental validation, along with 42 putative inactives as negative controls. Twenty five (14.2%) computational hits were found to have antimalarial activities with minimal cytotoxicity to mammalian cells, while all 42 putative inactives were confirmed experimentally. Structural inspection of confirmed active hits revealed novel chemical scaffolds, which could be employed as starting points to discover novel antimalarial agents.
doi:10.1021/ci300421n
PMCID: PMC3644566  PMID: 23252936
Antimalarial activity; quantitative structure–activity relationships; virtual screening; experimental confirmation
8.  Predictive Modeling of Chemical Hazard by Integrating Numerical Descriptors of Chemical Structures and Short-term Toxicity Assay Data 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;127(1):1-9.
Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) models are widely used for in silico prediction of in vivo toxicity of drug candidates or environmental chemicals, adding value to candidate selection in drug development or in a search for less hazardous and more sustainable alternatives for chemicals in commerce. The development of traditional QSAR models is enabled by numerical descriptors representing the inherent chemical properties that can be easily defined for any number of molecules; however, traditional QSAR models often have limited predictive power due to the lack of data and complexity of in vivo endpoints. Although it has been indeed difficult to obtain experimentally derived toxicity data on a large number of chemicals in the past, the results of quantitative in vitro screening of thousands of environmental chemicals in hundreds of experimental systems are now available and continue to accumulate. In addition, publicly accessible toxicogenomics data collected on hundreds of chemicals provide another dimension of molecular information that is potentially useful for predictive toxicity modeling. These new characteristics of molecular bioactivity arising from short-term biological assays, i.e., in vitro screening and/or in vivo toxicogenomics data can now be exploited in combination with chemical structural information to generate hybrid QSAR–like quantitative models to predict human toxicity and carcinogenicity. Using several case studies, we illustrate the benefits of a hybrid modeling approach, namely improvements in the accuracy of models, enhanced interpretation of the most predictive features, and expanded applicability domain for wider chemical space coverage.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfs095
PMCID: PMC3327873  PMID: 22387746
QSAR; toxicity screening; hybrid modeling
9.  Quantitative High-Throughput Screening for Chemical Toxicity in a Population-Based In Vitro Model 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;126(2):578-588.
A shift in toxicity testing from in vivo to in vitro may efficiently prioritize compounds, reveal new mechanisms, and enable predictive modeling. Quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) is a major source of data for computational toxicology, and our goal in this study was to aid in the development of predictive in vitro models of chemical-induced toxicity, anchored on interindividual genetic variability. Eighty-one human lymphoblast cell lines from 27 Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain trios were exposed to 240 chemical substances (12 concentrations, 0.26nM–46.0μM) and evaluated for cytotoxicity and apoptosis. qHTS screening in the genetically defined population produced robust and reproducible results, which allowed for cross-compound, cross-assay, and cross-individual comparisons. Some compounds were cytotoxic to all cell types at similar concentrations, whereas others exhibited interindividual differences in cytotoxicity. Specifically, the qHTS in a population-based human in vitro model system has several unique aspects that are of utility for toxicity testing, chemical prioritization, and high-throughput risk assessment. First, standardized and high-quality concentration-response profiling, with reproducibility confirmed by comparison with previous experiments, enables prioritization of chemicals for variability in interindividual range in cytotoxicity. Second, genome-wide association analysis of cytotoxicity phenotypes allows exploration of the potential genetic determinants of interindividual variability in toxicity. Furthermore, highly significant associations identified through the analysis of population-level correlations between basal gene expression variability and chemical-induced toxicity suggest plausible mode of action hypotheses for follow-up analyses. We conclude that as the improved resolution of genetic profiling can now be matched with high-quality in vitro screening data, the evaluation of the toxicity pathways and the effects of genetic diversity are now feasible through the use of human lymphoblast cell lines.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfs023
PMCID: PMC3307611  PMID: 22268004
chemical cytotoxicity; apoptosis; HapMap; lymphoblasts; qHTS
10.  Combined application of cheminformatics- and physical force field-based scoring functions improves binding affinity prediction for CSAR datasets 
The curated CSAR-NRC benchmark sets provide valuable opportunity for testing or comparing the performance of both existing and novel scoring functions. We apply two different scoring functions, both independently and in combination, to predict binding affinity of ligands in the CSAR-NRC datasets. One, reported here for the first time, employs multiple chemical-geometrical descriptors of the protein-ligand interface to develop Quantitative Structure – Binding Affinity Relationships (QSBAR) models; these models are then used to predict binding affinity of ligands in the external dataset. Second is a physical force field-based scoring function, MedusaScore. We show that both individual scoring functions achieve statistically significant prediction accuracies with the squared correlation coefficient (R2) between actual and predicted binding affinity of 0.44/0.53 (Set1/Set2) with QSBAR models and 0.34/0.47 (Set1/Set2) with MedusaScore. Importantly, we find that the combination of QSBAR models and MedusaScore into consensus scoring function affords higher prediction accuracy than any of the contributing methods achieving R2 of 0.45/0.58 (Set1/Set2). Furthermore, we identify several chemical features and non-covalent interactions that may be responsible for the inaccurate prediction of binding affinity for several ligands by the scoring functions employed in this study.
doi:10.1021/ci200146e
PMCID: PMC3183266  PMID: 21780807
11.  Antitumor Agents 280. Multidrug Resistance-Selective Desmosdumotin B Analogues 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(18):6699-6705.
6,6,8-Triethyldesmosdumotin B (2) was discovered as a MDR–selective flavonoid with significant in vitro anticancer activity against a multi-drug resistant (MDR) cell line (KB-VIN) but without activity against the parent cells (KB). Additional 2-analogues were synthesized and evaluated to determine the effect of B-ring modifications on MDR-selectivity. Analogues with a B-ring Me (3) or Et (4) group had substantially increased MDR–selectivity. Three new disubstituted analogues, 35, 37 and 49, also had high collateral sensitivity (CS) indices of 273, 250 and 100, respectively. Furthermore, 2–4 also displayed MDR-selectivity in an MDR hepatoma-cell system. While 2–4 showed either no or very weak inhibition of cellular P-glycoprotein (P-gp) activity, they either activated or inhibited the actions of the first generation P-gp inhibitors verapamil or cyclosporin, respectively.
doi:10.1021/jm100846r
PMCID: PMC2945214  PMID: 20735140
12.  Use of in Vitro HTS-Derived Concentration–Response Data as Biological Descriptors Improves the Accuracy of QSAR Models of in Vivo Toxicity 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;119(3):364-370.
Background
Quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) assays are increasingly being used to inform chemical hazard identification. Hundreds of chemicals have been tested in dozens of cell lines across extensive concentration ranges by the National Toxicology Program in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center.
Objectives
Our goal was to test a hypothesis that dose–response data points of the qHTS assays can serve as biological descriptors of assayed chemicals and, when combined with conventional chemical descriptors, improve the accuracy of quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models applied to prediction of in vivo toxicity end points.
Methods
We obtained cell viability qHTS concentration–response data for 1,408 substances assayed in 13 cell lines from PubChem; for a subset of these compounds, rodent acute toxicity half-maximal lethal dose (LD50) data were also available. We used the k nearest neighbor classification and random forest QSAR methods to model LD50 data using chemical descriptors either alone (conventional models) or combined with biological descriptors derived from the concentration–response qHTS data (hybrid models). Critical to our approach was the use of a novel noise-filtering algorithm to treat qHTS data.
Results
Both the external classification accuracy and coverage (i.e., fraction of compounds in the external set that fall within the applicability domain) of the hybrid QSAR models were superior to conventional models.
Conclusions
Concentration–response qHTS data may serve as informative biological descriptors of molecules that, when combined with conventional chemical descriptors, may considerably improve the accuracy and utility of computational approaches for predicting in vivo animal toxicity end points.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1002476
PMCID: PMC3060000  PMID: 20980217
acute toxicity; animal testing; computational toxicology; quantitative high-throughput screening; QSAR
13.  QSAR Modeling of Rat Acute Toxicity by Oral Exposure 
Chemical research in toxicology  2009;22(12):1913-1921.
Few Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) studies have successfully modeled large, diverse rodent toxicity endpoints. In this study, a comprehensive dataset of 7,385 compounds with their most conservative lethal dose (LD50) values has been compiled. A combinatorial QSAR approach has been employed to develop robust and predictive models of acute toxicity in rats caused by oral exposure to chemicals. To enable fair comparison between the predictive power of models generated in this study versus a commercial toxicity predictor, TOPKAT (Toxicity Prediction by Komputer Assisted Technology), a modeling subset of the entire dataset was selected that included all 3,472 compounds used in the TOPKAT’s training set. The remaining 3,913 compounds, which were not present in the TOPKAT training set, were used as the external validation set. QSAR models of five different types were developed for the modeling set. The prediction accuracy for the external validation set was estimated by determination coefficient R2 of linear regression between actual and predicted LD50 values. The use of the applicability domain threshold implemented in most models generally improved the external prediction accuracy but expectedly led to the decrease in chemical space coverage; depending on the applicability domain threshold, R2 ranged from 0.24 to 0.70. Ultimately, several consensus models were developed by averaging the predicted LD50 for every compound using all 5 models. The consensus models afforded higher prediction accuracy for the external validation dataset with the higher coverage as compared to individual constituent models. The validated consensus LD50 models developed in this study can be used as reliable computational predictors of in vivo acute toxicity.
doi:10.1021/tx900189p
PMCID: PMC2796713  PMID: 19845371
acute toxicity; computational toxicology; LD50; oral exposure; QSAR; rat

Results 1-13 (13)