Integrating Cell Morphology with Gene Expression and Chemical Structure to Aid Mitochondrial Toxicity Detection
Seal S, Carreras-Puigvert J, Trapotsi MA, Yang H, Spjuth O, Bender A.
Integrating Cell Morphology with Gene Expression and Chemical Structure to Aid Mitochondrial Toxicity Detection.
Nature Communications Biology. 5, 858 (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03763-5
Mitochondrial toxicity is an important safety endpoint in drug discovery. Models based solely on chemical structure for predicting mitochondrial toxicity are currently limited in accuracy and applicability domain to the chemical space of the training compounds. In this work, we aimed to utilize both -omics and chemical data to push beyond the state-of-the-art. We combined Cell Painting and Gene Expression data with chemical structural information from Morgan fingerprints for 382 chemical perturbants tested in the Tox21 mitochondrial membrane depolarization assay. We observed that mitochondrial toxicants significantly differ from non-toxic compounds in morphological space and identified compound clusters having similar mechanisms of mitochondrial toxicity, thereby indicating that morphological space provides biological insights related to mechanisms of action of this endpoint. We further showed that models combining Cell Painting, Gene Expression features and Morgan fingerprints improved model performance on an external test set of 236 compounds by 60% (in terms of F1 score) and improved extrapolation to new chemical space. The performance of our combined models was comparable with dedicated in vitro assays for mitochondrial toxicity; and they were able to detect mitochondrial toxicity where Tox21 assays outcomes were inconclusive because of cytotoxicity. Our results suggest that combining chemical descriptors with different levels of biological readouts enhances the detection of mitochondrial toxicants, with practical implications for use in drug discovery.