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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;929:139-65.

Informing mechanistic toxicology with computational molecular models.

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  • 1National Exposure Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


Computational molecular models of chemicals interacting with biomolecular targets provides toxicologists a valuable, affordable, and sustainable source of in silico molecular level information that augments, enriches, and complements in vitro and in vivo efforts. From a molecular biophysical ansatz, we describe how 3D molecular modeling methods used to numerically evaluate the classical pair-wise potential at the chemical/biological interface can inform mechanism of action and the dose-response paradigm of modern toxicology. With an emphasis on molecular docking, 3D-QSAR and pharmacophore/toxicophore approaches, we demonstrate how these methods can be integrated with chemoinformatic and toxicogenomic efforts into a tiered computational toxicology workflow. We describe generalized protocols in which 3D computational molecular modeling is used to enhance our ability to predict and model the most relevant toxicokinetic, metabolic, and molecular toxicological endpoints, thereby accelerating the computational toxicology-driven basis of modern risk assessment while providing a starting point for rational sustainable molecular design.

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