Multi-view Co-training for microRNA Prediction
Scientific Reports , Volume 9 - Issue 1
MicroRNA (miRNA) are short, non-coding RNAs involved in cell regulation at post-transcriptional and translational levels. Numerous computational predictors of miRNA been developed that generally classify miRNA based on either sequence- or expression-based features. While these methods are highly effective, they require large labelled training data sets, which are often not available for many species. Simultaneously, emerging high-throughput wet-lab experimental procedures are producing large unlabelled data sets of genomic sequence and RNA expression profiles. Existing methods use supervised machine learning and are therefore unable to leverage these unlabelled data. In this paper, we design and develop a multi-view co-training approach for the classification of miRNA to maximize the utility of unlabelled training data by taking advantage of multiple views of the problem. Starting with only 10 labelled training data, co-training is shown to significantly (p < 0.01) increase classification accuracy of both sequence- and expression-based classifiers, without requiring any new labelled training data. After 11 iterations of co-training, the expression-based view of miRNA classification experiences an average increase in AUPRC of 15.81% over six species, compared to 11.90% for self-training and 4.84% for passive learning. Similar results are observed for sequence-based classifiers with increases of 46.47%, 39.53% and 29.43%, for co-training, self-training, and passive learning, respectively. The final co-trained sequence and expression-based classifiers are integrated into a final confidence-based classifier which shows improved performance compared to both the expression (1.5%, p = 0.021) and sequence (3.7%, p = 0.006) views. This study represents the first application of multi-view co-training to miRNA prediction and shows great promise, particularly for understudied species with few available training data.