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MirLocPredictor: a ConvNet-based multi-label MicroRNA subcellular localization predictor by incorporating k-Mer positional information

Muhammad Nabeel Asim; Muhammad Imran Malik; Christoph Zehe; Johan Trygg; Andreas Dengel; Sheraz Ahmed
In: Genes, Vol. 11, No. 12 (1475), Pages 1-23, MDPI, 2020.


MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small noncoding RNA sequences consisting of about 22 nucleotides that are involved in the regulation of almost 60% of mammalian genes. Presently, there are very limited approaches for the visualization of miRNA locations present inside cells to support the elucidation of pathways and mechanisms behind miRNA function, transport, and biogenesis. MIRLocator, a state-of-the-art tool for the prediction of subcellular localization of miRNAs makes use of a sequence-to-sequence model along with pretrained k-mer embeddings. Existing pretrained k-mer embedding generation methodologies focus on the extraction of semantics of k-mers. However, in RNA sequences, positional information of nucleotides is more important because distinct positions of the four nucleotides define the function of an RNA molecule. Considering the importance of the nucleotide position, we propose a novel approach (kmerPR2vec) which is a fusion of positional information of k-mers with randomly initialized neural k-mer embeddings. In contrast to existing k-mer-based representation, the proposed kmerPR2vec representation is much more rich in terms of semantic information and has more discriminative power. Using novel kmerPR2vec representation, we further present an end-to-end system (MirLocPredictor) which couples the discriminative power of kmerPR2vec with Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) for miRNA subcellular location prediction. The effectiveness of the proposed kmerPR2vec approach is evaluated with deep learning-based topologies (i.e., Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and Recurrent Neural Network (RNN)) and by using 9 different evaluation measures. Analysis of the results reveals that MirLocPredictor outperform state-of-the-art methods with a significant margin of 18% and 19% in terms of precision and recall.