A new paradigm for applying deep learning to protein-ligand interaction prediction

Zechen Wang, Sheng Wang, Yangyang Li, Jingjing Guo, Yanjie Wei, Yuguang Mu, Liangzhen Zheng, Weifeng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein-ligand interaction prediction presents a significant challenge in drug design. Numerous machine learning and deep learning (DL) models have been developed to accurately identify docking poses of ligands and active compounds against specific targets. However, current models often suffer from inadequate accuracy or lack practical physical significance in their scoring systems. In this research paper, we introduce IGModel, a novel approach that utilizes the geometric information of protein-ligand complexes as input for predicting the root mean square deviation of docking poses and the binding strength (pKd, the negative value of the logarithm of binding affinity) within the same prediction framework. This ensures that the output scores carry intuitive meaning. We extensively evaluate the performance of IGModel on various docking power test sets, including the CASF-2016 benchmark, PDBbind-CrossDocked-Core and DISCO set, consistently achieving state-of-the-art accuracies. Furthermore, we assess IGModel's generalizability and robustness by evaluating it on unbiased test sets and sets containing target structures generated by AlphaFold2. The exceptional performance of IGModel on these sets demonstrates its efficacy. Additionally, we visualize the latent space of protein-ligand interactions encoded by IGModel and conduct interpretability analysis, providing valuable insights. This study presents a novel framework for DL-based prediction of protein-ligand interactions, contributing to the advancement of this field. The IGModel is available at GitHub repository https://github.com/zchwang/IGModel.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbbae145
JournalBriefings in Bioinformatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024


  • deep learning
  • graph neural network
  • protein-ligand interaction
  • scoring function


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