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J Chem Inf Comput Sci. 2003 Jan-Feb;43(1):267-72.

Consideration of molecular weight during compound selection in virtual target-based database screening.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.


Virtual database screening allows for millions of chemical compounds to be computationally selected based on structural complimentary to known inhibitors or to a target binding site on a biological macromolecule. Compound selection in virtual database screening when targeting a biological macromolecule is typically based on the interaction energy between the chemical compound and the target macromolecule. In the present study it is shown that this approach is biased toward the selection of high molecular weight compounds due to the contribution of the compound size to the energy score. To account for molecular weight during energy based screening, we propose normalization strategies based on the total number of heavy atoms in the chemical compounds being screened. This approach is computationally efficient and produces molecular weight distributions of selected compounds that can be selected to be (1) lower than that of the original database used in the virtual screening, which may be desirable for selection of leadlike compounds or (2) similar to that of the original database, which may be desirable for the selection of drug-like compounds. By eliminating the bias in target-based database screening toward higher molecular weight compounds it is anticipated that the proposed procedure will enhance the success rate of computer-aided drug design.

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