The OpenKinome initiative aims to leverage the increasingly available bioactivity data and scalable computational resources to perform kinase-centric drug design in the context of structure-informed machine learning and free energy calculations.

The goals

Kinases are a well studied group of proteins due to their role in cancer and other diseases. As a result, there is an abundance of data waiting to be used in computational exercises such as machine learning.

The hypothesis is that using higher quality data will allow us to build models with improved prediction accuracy. Eventually, we aim to build structure-informed models that can benefit from both machine learning and free energy calculations.

However, to get there we must establish baseline models and a way to iterate and improve in reproducible and comparable ways. This calls for the following pillars:

The challenges and the requirements

Getting the available data to work reliably in our machine learning studies requires some prior work. Some of the key challenges we need to solve to get to that point are summarized below.

Obtaining raw data

The origin of the data is very important for reproducibility. The source and uniquely identifying tags need to be annotated and kept. Ideally, this means that you are using versioned data (a git tag, a DOI, etc).

For example, Drewry’s Published Kinase Inhibitor Set 2 (PKIS2) dataset can be downloaded from the Supporting Information attached to the corresponding manuscript. Since it has DOI, it can be traced back to its source.

Online webservices such as ChEMBL contain a lot of valuable data, sprinkled with sometimes less useful data. Retrieving the useful bits can be automated with packages such as chembl_webresource_client but it does not provide a way to version the acquisition (other than the current date, which makes it not reproducible). Fortunately, ChEMBL does offer archived database dumps you can download and query locally.

The repository openkinome/kinodata governs the process of querying (and cleaning) wide-purpose databases such as ChEMBL for the parts we need for our experiments. If you need to obtain data from an online resource and guarantee its provenance and reproducibility, this is the place you add your contributions. If new querying and curation protocols need to be added to the pipeline, a new release will be cut and the the resulting CSV files will be versioned and archived there for posterity.

From raw data to a unified object model

One of the most useful types of data we can find in the context of drug design is binding affinity or ΔG, which involves at least three elements: the measurement itself (a number), and two molecular counterparts (a protein or target, and a small compound or ligand). The relationship between measurements and molecules is a bit more nuanced than you think:

A the same time, data itself can come from very diverse sources, formatted in different ways. Excel spreadsheets, CSV files, SQL databases, HTML tables, web applications… No matter the source, we need to funnel that data into a unified object model that is able to represent the observed measurements in a flexible yet concise way. If we can aim for a sufficiently robust object model, we can automate any data conversions along the way. This process is governed by kinoml.datasets. The kinoml.core subpackage specifies the following object model:

Molecular components, representations and entities

Published datasets are not usually great when it comes to providing information about what was measured exactly. They will contain enough data to identify the intent, but maybe not enough to reconstruct the experimental conditions in a computational workflow. For example:

Information about the measured proteins might be encoded via:

Ligands might be encoded with:

In the end, it should not matter, because they all represent the same molecular entity, and the object model must be able to encode for that. We strive to provide an object model that can funnel all these different molecular representations into the same idealized representation of the molecular entity. Notice we mention the possibility, not the requirement. Some workflows do not need to go through the expensive demands of constructing a fully-fledged Protein object out of a PDB identifier, and hence, they can escape that data augmentation if the dataset contains enough information for the needs of the experiment. That does not mean that the workflow is not reproducible, because in the end a part of the object model tree was used to annotate the objects with sufficient provenance information.

More details.

Measurement types and uncertainties

Most experimental assays do not estimate ΔG of binding directly, but through proxy measurements like IC50, Kd, Ki, or percentage of displacement. Additionally, those assays are performed by different laboratories with different protocols and techniques. This all leads to different experimental uncertainties and soft measurements. While the data can be a bit noisy, it is definitely informative and has the potential to provide predictive power in an adequately tuned model.

This results in the following requirements:

More details.

The software

Achieving all these goals and fulfilling all these requirements require modular libraries that allow us to compose the needed pipelines.

Our main library is openkinome/kinoml. It provides all the building blocks at the different stages of the pipeline. Some highlights:

The result-oriented pipelines are built in additional repositories, prefixed with experiments-*. For example, openkinome/experiments-binding-affinity provides an automated notebook running system based on templates and papermill. It encourages separating featurization from training by design, so the same tensors can be reused across different models; also, the same models can be trained with different featurization schemes.

Finally, providing curated data ready to be ingested at kinoml is tackled by openkinome/kinodata. Here, several notebooks query different online resources to obtain an updated list of the human kinome and the presence of relevant bioactivity in different datasets, like ChEMBL. CSV artifacts are released on GitHub and downloaded and cached by kinoml.datasets during featurization.

The team

The OpenKinome initiative is the product of an ongoing collaboration between Volkamer lab (Berlin, DE) and Chodera lab (New York, USA).


Funded by Stiftung Charité (Einstein BIH Visiting Fellow Project), Bayer AG, and others.