Development and evaluation of an in silico model for hERG binding

Minghu Song, Matthew Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


It has been recognized that drug-induced QT prolongation is related to blockage of the human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) ion channel. Therefore, it is prudent to evaluate the hERG binding of active compounds in early stages of drug discovery. In silico approaches provide an economic and quick method to screen for potential hERG liability. A diverse set of 90 compounds with hERG IC 50 inhibition data was collected from literature references. Fragment-based QSAR descriptors and three different statistical methods, support vector regression, partial least squares, and random forests, were employed to construct QSAR models for hERG binding affinity. Important fragment descriptors relevant to hERG binding affinity were identified through an efficient feature selection method based on sparse linear support vector regression. The support vector regression predictive model built upon selected fragment descriptors outperforms the other two statistical methods in this study, resulting in an r 2 of 0.912 and 0.848 for the training and testing data sets, respectively. The support vector regression model was applied to predict hERG binding affinities of 20 in-house compounds belonging to three different series. The model predicted the relative binding affinity well for two out of three compound series. The hierarchical clustering and dendrogram results show that the compound series with the best prediction has much higher structural similarity and more neighbors of training compounds than the other two compound series, demonstrating the predictive scope of the model. The combination of a QSAR model and postprocessing analysis, such as clustering and visualization, provides a way to assess the confidence level of QSAR prediction results on the basis of similarity to the training set.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-400
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


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