Motivation

Increasing evidence suggests that post-transcriptional ribonucleic acid (RNA) modifications regulate essential biomolecular functions and are related to the pathogenesis of various diseases. Precise identification of RNA modification sites is essential for understanding the regulatory mechanisms of RNAs. To date, many computational approaches for predicting RNA modifications have been developed, most of which were based on strong supervision enabled by base-resolution epitranscriptome data. However, high-resolution data may not be available.

Results

We propose WeakRM, the first weakly supervised learning framework for predicting RNA modifications from low-resolution epitranscriptome datasets, such as those generated from acRIP-seq and hMeRIP-seq. Evaluations on three independent datasets (corresponding to three different RNA modification types and their respective sequencing technologies) demonstrated the effectiveness of our approach in predicting RNA modifications from low-resolution data. WeakRM outperformed state-of-the-art multi-instance learning methods for genomic sequences, such as WSCNN, which was originally designed for transcription factor binding site prediction. Additionally, our approach captured motifs that are consistent with existing knowledge, and visualization of the predicted modification-containing regions unveiled the potentials of detecting RNA modifications with improved resolution.

Availability implementation

The source code for the WeakRM algorithm, along with the datasets used, are freely accessible at: https://github.com/daiyun02211/WeakRM

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.