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In Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)

MOTIVATION : Deep learning architectures have recently demonstrated their power in predicting DNA- and RNA-binding specificity. Existing methods fall into three classes: Some are based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs), others use recurrent neural networks (RNNs) and others rely on hybrid architectures combining CNNs and RNNs. However, based on existing studies the relative merit of the various architectures remains unclear.

RESULTS : In this study we present a systematic exploration of deep learning architectures for predicting DNA- and RNA-binding specificity. For this purpose, we present deepRAM, an end-to-end deep learning tool that provides an implementation of a wide selection of architectures; its fully automatic model selection procedure allows us to perform a fair and unbiased comparison of deep learning architectures. We find that deeper more complex architectures provide a clear advantage with sufficient training data, and that hybrid CNN/RNN architectures outperform other methods in terms of accuracy. Our work provides guidelines that can assist the practitioner in choosing an appropriate network architecture, and provides insight on the difference between the models learned by convolutional and recurrent networks. In particular, we find that although recurrent networks improve model accuracy, this comes at the expense of a loss in the interpretability of the features learned by the model.

AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION : The source code for deepRAM is available at

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION : Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Trabelsi Ameni, Chaabane Mohamed, Ben-Hur Asa