The Scaffold Tree: An Efficient Navigation in the Scaffold Universe

  • Peter Ertl
  • Ansgar Schuffenhauer
  • Steffen Renner
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 672)


The Scaffold Tree algorithm (J Chem Inf Model 47:47–58, 2007) allows to organize large molecular data sets by arranging sets of molecules into a unique tree hierarchy based on their scaffolds, with scaffolds forming leaf nodes of such tree. The hierarchy is created by iterative removal of rings from more complex scaffolds using chemically meaningful set of rules, until a single, root ring is obtained. The classification is deterministic, data set independent, and scales linearly with the number of compounds included in the data set. In this review we summarize the basic principles of the Scaffold Tree methodology and review its applications, which appeared in recent medicinal chemistry literature, including the use of Scaffold Trees for visualization of large chemical data sets, compound clustering, and the identification of novel bioactive molecules. References to several computer programs, including also free tools available on the Internet, allowing to perform classification and visualization of molecules based on their scaffolds are also provided.

Key words

Scaffold Ring Scaffold classification Scaffold hopping Clustering Chemical space Scientific visualization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Ertl
    • 1
  • Ansgar Schuffenhauer
    • 1
  • Steffen Renner
    • 1
  1. 1.Novartis Institutes for BioMedical ResearchBaselSwitzerland

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