TargetM6A: Identifying N6-Methyladenosine Sites From RNA Sequences via Position-Specific Nucleotide Propensities and a Support Vector Machine

Vol. 15, No. 7

As one of the most ubiquitous post-transcriptional modifications of RNA, N6-methyladenosine ( m 6 A  ) plays an essential role in many vital biological processes. The identification of m 6 A  sites in RNAs is significantly important for both basic biomedical research and practical drug development. In this study, we designed a computational-based method, called TargetM6A, to rapidly and accurately target m 6 A  sites solely from the primary RNA sequences. Two new features, i.e., position-specific nucleotide/dinucleotide propensities (PSNP/PSDP), are introduced and combined with the traditional nucleotide composition (NC) feature to formulate RNA sequences. The extracted features are further optimized to obtain a much more compact and discriminative feature subset by applying an incremental feature selection (IFS) procedure. Based on the optimized feature subset, we trained TargetM6A on the training dataset with a support vector machine (SVM) as the prediction engine. We compared the proposed TargetM6A method with existing methods for predicting m 6 A  sites by performing stringent jackknife tests and independent validation tests on benchmark datasets. The experimental results show that the proposed TargetM6A method outperformed the existing methods for predicting m 6 A  sites and remarkably improved the prediction performances, with MCC = 0.526 and AUC = 0.818. We also provided a user-friendly web server for TargetM6A, which is publicly accessible for academic use at http://csbio.njust.edu.cn/bioinf/TargetM6A.

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