Strategy toward Kinase-Selective Drug Discovery

Mingzhen Zhang, Yonglan Liu, Hyunbum Jang, Ruth Nussinov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kinase drug selectivity is the ground challenge in cancer research. Due to the structurally similar kinase drug pockets, off-target inhibitor toxicity has been a major cause for clinical trial failures. The pockets are similar but not identical. Here, we describe a transformation invariant protocol to identify distinct geometric features in the drug pocket that can distinguish one kinase from all others. We integrate available experimental structures with the artificial intelligence-based structural kinome, performing a kinome-wide structural bioinformatic analysis to establish the structural principles of kinase drug selectivity. We generate the structural landscape from the experimental kinase-ligand complexes and propose a binary network that encapsulates the information. The results show that all kinases contain binary units that are shared by less than seven other kinases in the kinome. 331 kinases contain unique binary units that may distinguish them from all others. The structural features encoded by these binary units in the network represent the inhibitor-accessible geometric space that may capture the kinome-wide selectivity. Our proposed binary network with the unsupervised clustering can serve as a general structural bioinformatic protocol for extracting the distinguishing structural features for any protein from their families. We apply the binary network to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor selectivity by targeting the gate area and the AKT1 serine/threonine kinase selectivity by binding to the αC-helix region and the allosteric pocket. Finally, we develop the cross-platform software, KDS (Kinase Drug Selectivity), for customized visualization and analysis of the binary networks in the human kinome (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1628
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2023


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