by Christiane Ehrt, Tobias Brinkjost, Oliver Koch
The automated comparison of protein-ligand binding sites provides useful insights into yet unexplored site similarities. Various stages of computational and chemical biology research can benefit from this knowledge. The search for putative off-targets and the establishment of polypharmacological effects by comparing binding sites led to promising results for numerous projects. Although many cavity comparison methods are available, a comprehensive analysis to guide the choice of a tool for a specific application is wanting. Moreover, the broad variety of binding site modeling approaches, comparison algorithms, and scoring metrics impedes this choice. Herein, we aim to elucidate strengths and weaknesses of binding site comparison methodologies. A detailed benchmark study is the only possibility to rationalize the selection of appropriate tools for different scenarios. Specific evaluation data sets were developed to shed light on multiple aspects of binding site comparison. An assembly of all applied benchmark sets (ProSPECCTs–Protein Site Pairs for the Evaluation of Cavity Comparison Tools) is made available for the evaluation and optimization of further and still emerging methods. The results indicate the importance of such analyses to facilitate the choice of a methodology that complies with the requirements of a specific scientific challenge.
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