Investigation of the structure-odor relationship using a Transformer model

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The relationships between molecular structures and their properties are subtle and complex, and the properties of odor are no exception. Molecules with similar structures, such as a molecule and its optical isomer, may have completely different odors, whereas molecules with completely distinct structures may have similar odors. Many works have attempted to explain the molecular structure-odor relationship from chemical and data-driven perspectives. The Transformer model is widely used in natural language processing and computer vision, and the attention mechanism included in the Transformer model can identify relationships between inputs and outputs. In this paper, we describe the construction of a Transformer model for predicting molecular properties and interpreting the prediction results. The SMILES data of 100,000 molecules are collected and used to predict the existence of molecular substructures, and our proposed model achieves an F1 value of 0.98. The attention matrix is visualized to investigate the substructure annotation performance of the attention mechanism, and we find that certain atoms in the target substructures are accurately annotated. Finally, we collect 4462 molecules and their odor descriptors and use the proposed model to infer 98 odor descriptors, obtaining an average F1 value of 0.33. For the 19 odor descriptors that achieved F1 values greater than 0.45, we also attempt to summarize the relationship between the molecular substructures and odor quality through the attention matrix.

Original languageEnglish
Article number88
JournalJournal of Cheminformatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Library and Information Sciences


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