Quantitative structure-activity relationships and the prediction of MHC supermotifs

Irini A. Doytchinova, Pingping Guan, Darren R. Flower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The underlying assumption in quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) methodology is that related chemical structures exhibit related biological activities. We review here two QSAR methods in terms of their applicability for human MHC supermotif definition. Supermotifs are motifs that characterise binding to more than one allele. Supermotif definition is the initial in silico
step of epitope-based vaccine design. The first QSAR method we review here—the additive method—is based on the assumption that the binding affinity of a peptide depends on contributions from both amino acids and the interactions between them. The second method is a 3D-QSAR method: comparative molecular similarity indices analysis (CoMSIA). Both methods were applied to 771 peptides binding to 9 HLA alleles. Five of the alleles (A*0201, A*
0202, A*0203, A*0206 and A*6802) belong to the HLA-A2 superfamily and the other four (A*0301, A*1101, A*3101 and A*6801) to the HLA-A3 superfamily. For each superfamily, supermotifs defined by the two QSAR methods agree closely and are supported by many experimental data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-453
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date2 Nov 2004
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


  • superfamilies
  • supermotifs
  • hla-a2
  • hla-a3
  • qsar
  • additive method
  • comsia
  • peptides
  • mhc
  • binding affinities


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