Drug-target interaction (DTI) is the basis of drug discovery and design. It is time consuming and costly to determine DTI experimentally. Hence, it is necessary to develop computational methods for the prediction of potential DTI. Based on complex network theory, three supervised inference methods were developed here to predict DTI and used for drug repositioning, namely drug-based similarity inference (DBSI), target-based similarity inference (TBSI) and network-based inference (NBI). Among them, NBI performed best on four benchmark data sets. Then a drug-target network was created with NBI based on 12,483 FDA-approved and experimental drug-target binary links, and some new DTIs were further predicted. In vitro assays confirmed that five old drugs, namely montelukast, diclofenac, simvastatin, ketoconazole, and itraconazole, showed polypharmacological features on estrogen receptors or dipeptidyl peptidase-IV with half maximal inhibitory or effective concentration ranged from 0.2 to 10 µM. Moreover, simvastatin and ketoconazole showed potent antiproliferative activities on human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line in MTT assays. The results indicated that these methods could be powerful tools in prediction of DTIs and drug repositioning.
Study of drug-target interaction is an important topic toward elucidation of protein functions and understanding of molecular mechanisms inside cells. Traditional methods to predict new targets for known drugs were based on small molecules, protein targets or phenotype features. Here, we proposed a network-based inference (NBI) method which only used drug-target bipartite network topology similarity to infer new targets for known drugs. The performance of NBI outperformed the drug-based similarity inference and target-based similarity inference methods as well as other published methods. Via the NBI method five old drugs, namely montelukast, diclofenac, simvastatin, ketoconazole, and itraconazole, were identified to have polypharmacological effects on human estrogen receptors or dipeptidyl peptidase-IV with half maximal inhibitory or effective concentration from submicromolar to micromolar by in vitro assays. Moreover, simvastatin and ketoconazole showed potent antiproliferative activities on human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line in MTT assays. The results indicated that the drug-target bipartite network-based inference method could be a useful tool for fishing novel drug-target interactions in molecular polypharmacological space.