Selecting Machine-Learning Scoring Functions for Structure-Based Virtual Screening

23 September 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Interest in docking technologies has grown parallel to the ever increasing number and diversity of 3D models for macromolecular therapeutic targets. Structure-Based Virtual Screening (SBVS) aims at leveraging these experimental structures to discover the necessary starting points for the drug discovery process. It is now established that Machine Learning (ML) can strongly enhance the predictive accuracy of scoring functions for SBVS by exploiting large datasets from targets, molecules and their associations. However, with greater choice, the question of which ML-based scoring function is the most suitable for prospective use on a given target has gained importance. Here we analyse two approaches to select an existing scoring function for the target along with a third approach consisting in generating a scoring function tailored to the target. These analyses required discussing the limitations of popular SBVS benchmarks, the alternatives to benchmark scoring functions for SBVS and how to generate them or use them using freely-available software.


Virtual Screening
Machine Learning
Scoring Functions
Molecular Docking


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