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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-312628


The identification of protein-ligand interaction plays a key role in biochemical research and drug discovery. Although deep learning has recently shown great promise in discovering new drugs, there remains a gap between deep learning-based and experimental approaches. Here we propose a novel framework, named AIMEE, integrating AI Model and Enzymology Experiments, to identify inhibitors against 3CL protease of SARS-CoV-2, which has taken a significant toll on people across the globe. From a bioactive chemical library, we have conducted two rounds of experiments and identified six novel inhibitors with a hit rate of 29.41%, and four of them showed an IC50 value less than 3 μM. Moreover, we explored the interpretability of the central model in AIMEE, mapping the deep learning extracted features to domain knowledge of chemical properties. Based on this knowledge, a commercially available compound was selected and proven to be an activity-based probe of 3CLpro. This work highlights the great potential of combining deep learning models and biochemical experiments for intelligent iteration and expanding the boundaries of drug discovery.