Identification of pan-kinase-family inhibitors using graph convolutional networks to reveal family-sensitive pre-moieties

Xiang Yu Lin, Yu Wei Huang, You Wei Fan, Yun Ti Chen, Nikhil Pathak, Yen Chao Hsu, Jinn Moon Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Human protein kinases, the key players in phosphoryl signal transduction, have been actively investigated as drug targets for complex diseases such as cancer, immune disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease, with more than 60 successful drugs developed in the past 30 years. However, many of these single-kinase inhibitors show low efficacy and drug resistance has become an issue. Owing to the occurrence of highly conserved catalytic sites and shared signaling pathways within a kinase family, multi-target kinase inhibitors have attracted attention. Results: To design and identify such pan-kinase family inhibitors (PKFIs), we proposed PKFI sets for eight families using 200,000 experimental bioactivity data points and applied a graph convolutional network (GCN) to build classification models. Furthermore, we identified and extracted family-sensitive (only present in a family) pre-moieties (parts of complete moieties) by utilizing a visualized explanation (i.e., where the model focuses on each input) method for deep learning, gradient-weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM). Conclusions: This study is the first to propose the PKFI sets, and our results point out and validate the power of GCN models in understanding the pre-moieties of PKFIs within and across different kinase families. Moreover, we highlight the discoverability of family-sensitive pre-moieties in PKFI identification and drug design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Family-sensitive pre-moiety
  • Gradient-weighted class activation mapping
  • Graph convolutional network
  • Pan-kinase family inhibitor
  • Visualized explanation


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