DeeReCT-APA: Prediction of Alternative Polyadenylation Site Usage Through Deep Learning

Zhongxiao Li, Yisheng Li, Bin Zhang, Yu Li, Yongkang Long, Juexiao Zhou, Xudong Zou, Min Zhang, Yuhui Hu, Wei Chen, Xin Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a crucial step in post-transcriptional regulation. Previous bioinformatic works have mainly focused on the recognition of polyadenylation sites (PASs) in a given genomic sequence, which is a binary classification problem. Recently, computational methods for predicting the usage level of alternative PASs in a same gene have been proposed. However, all of them cast the problem as a non-quantitative pairwise comparison task and do not take the competition among multiple PASs into account. To address this, here we propose a deep learning architecture, DeeReCT-APA, to quantitatively predict the usage of all alternative PASs of a given gene. To accommodate different genes with potentially different numbers of PASs, DeeReCT-APA treats the problem as a regression task with a variable-length target. Based on a CNN-LSTM architecture, DeeReCT-APA extracts sequence features with CNN layers, uses bidirectional LSTM to explicitly model the interactions among competing PASs, and outputs percentage scores representing the usage levels of all PASs of a gene. In addition to the fact that only our method can predict quantitatively the usage of all the PASs within a gene, we show that our method consistently outperforms other existing methods on three different tasks for which they are trained: pairwise comparison task, highest usage prediction task, and ranking task. Finally, we demonstrate that our method can be used to predict the effect of genetic variations on APA patterns and shed light on future mechanistic understanding in APA regulation. Our code and data are available at
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGenomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics
StatePublished - Mar 2 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Molecular Biology


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