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Modeling multi-species RNA modification through multi-task curriculum learning.

  • Author(s): Xiong, Yuanpeng
  • He, Xuan
  • Zhao, Dan
  • Tian, Tingzhong
  • Hong, Lixiang
  • Jiang, Tao
  • Zeng, Jianyang
  • et al.
Abstract

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most pervasive modification in eukaryotic mRNAs. Numerous biological processes are regulated by this critical post-transcriptional mark, such as gene expression, RNA stability, RNA structure and translation. Recently, various experimental techniques and computational methods have been developed to characterize the transcriptome-wide landscapes of m6A modification for understanding its underlying mechanisms and functions in mRNA regulation. However, the experimental techniques are generally costly and time-consuming, while the existing computational models are usually designed only for m6A site prediction in a single-species and have significant limitations in accuracy, interpretability and generalizability. Here, we propose a highly interpretable computational framework, called MASS, based on a multi-task curriculum learning strategy to capture m6A features across multiple species simultaneously. Extensive computational experiments demonstrate the superior performances of MASS when compared to the state-of-the-art prediction methods. Furthermore, the contextual sequence features of m6A captured by MASS can be explained by the known critical binding motifs of the related RNA-binding proteins, which also help elucidate the similarity and difference among m6A features across species. In addition, based on the predicted m6A profiles, we further delineate the relationships between m6A and various properties of gene regulation, including gene expression, RNA stability, translation, RNA structure and histone modification. In summary, MASS may serve as a useful tool for characterizing m6A modification and studying its regulatory code. The source code of MASS can be downloaded from https://github.com/mlcb-thu/MASS.

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