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Nat Chem Biol. 2010 Jul;6(7):549-57. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.380. Epub 2010 May 30.

A predictive model for drug bioaccumulation and bioactivity in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The resistance of Caenorhabditis elegans to pharmacological perturbation limits its use as a screening tool for novel small bioactive molecules. One strategy to improve the hit rate of small-molecule screens is to preselect molecules that have an increased likelihood of reaching their target in the worm. To learn which structures evade the worm's defenses, we performed the first survey of the accumulation and metabolism of over 1,000 commercially available drug-like small molecules in the worm. We discovered that fewer than 10% of these molecules accumulate to concentrations greater than 50% of that present in the worm's environment. Using our dataset, we developed a structure-based accumulation model that identifies compounds with an increased likelihood of bioavailability and bioactivity, and we describe structural features that facilitate small-molecule accumulation in the worm. Preselecting molecules that are more likely to reach a target by first applying our model to the tens of millions of commercially available compounds will undoubtedly increase the success of future small-molecule screens with C. elegans.

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