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In Cell reports ; h5-index 119.0

Algorithms that accurately predict gene structure from primary sequence alone were transformative for annotating the human genome. Can we also predict the expression levels of genes based solely on genome sequence? Here, we sought to apply deep convolutional neural networks toward that goal. Surprisingly, a model that includes only promoter sequences and features associated with mRNA stability explains 59% and 71% of variation in steady-state mRNA levels in human and mouse, respectively. This model, termed Xpresso, more than doubles the accuracy of alternative sequence-based models and isolates rules as predictive as models relying on chromatic immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) data. Xpresso recapitulates genome-wide patterns of transcriptional activity, and its residuals can be used to quantify the influence of enhancers, heterochromatic domains, and microRNAs. Model interpretation reveals that promoter-proximal CpG dinucleotides strongly predict transcriptional activity. Looking forward, we propose cell-type-specific gene-expression predictions based solely on primary sequences as a grand challenge for the field.

Agarwal Vikram, Shendure Jay

2020-May-19

deep learning, gene regulation, predicting gene expression