Send to

Choose Destination
J Chem Inf Model. 2006 Mar-Apr;46(2):569-76.

Characterizing bitterness: identification of key structural features and development of a classification model.

Author information

Unilever Food and Health Research Institute, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, 3133 AT Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.


This work describes the first approach in the development of a comprehensive classification method for bitterness of small molecules. The data set comprises 649 bitter and 13 530 randomly selected molecules from the MDL Drug Data Repository (MDDR) which are analyzed by circular fingerprints (MOLPRINT 2D) and information-gain feature selection. The feature selection proposes substructural features which are statistically correlated to bitterness. Classification is performed on the selected features via a naïve Bayes classifier. The substructural features upon which the classification is based are able to discriminate between bitter and random compounds, and thus we propose they are also functionally responsible for causing the bitter taste. Such substructures include various sugar moieties as well as highly branched carbon scaffolds. Cynaropicrine contains a number of the substructural features found to be statistically associated with bitterness and thus was correctly predicted to be bitter by our model. Alternatively, both promethazine and saccharin contain fewer of these substructural features, and thus the bitterness in these compounds was not identified. Two different classes of bitter compounds were identified, namely those which are larger and contain mainly oxygen and carbon and often sugar moieties, and those which are rather smaller and contain additional nitrogen and/or sulfur fragments. The classifier is able to predict 72.1% of the bitter compounds. Feature selection reduces the number of false-positives while also increasing the number of false negatives to 69.5% of bitter compounds correctly predicted. Overall, the method presented here presents both one of the largest databases of bitter compounds presently available as well as a relatively reliable classification method.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center