Current computational methods for predicting protein interactions of natural products
Natural products (NPs) are an indispensable source of drugs and they have a better coverage of the pharmacological space than synthetic compounds, owing to their high structural diversity. The prediction of their interaction profiles with druggable protein targets remains a major challenge in modern drug discovery. Experimental (off-)target predictions of NPs are cost- and time-consuming, whereas computational methods, on the other hand, are much faster and cheaper. As a result, computational predictions are preferentially used in the first instance for NP profiling, prior to experimental validations. This review covers recent advances in computational approaches which have been developed to aid the annotation of unknown drug-target interactions (DTIs), by focusing on three broad classes, namely: ligand-based, target-based, and target-ligand-based (hybrid) approaches. Computational DTI prediction methods have the potential to significantly advance the discovery and development of novel selective drugs exhibiting minimal side effects. We highlight some inherent caveats of these methods which must be overcome to enable them to realize their full potential, and a future outlook is given.