Journal Article

TargetMiner: microRNA target prediction with systematic identification of tissue-specific negative examples

Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay and Ramkrishna Mitra

in Bioinformatics

Volume 25, issue 20, pages 2625-2631
Published in print October 2009 | ISSN: 1367-4803
Published online August 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2059 | DOI:
TargetMiner: microRNA target prediction with systematic identification of tissue-specific negative examples

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Motivation: Prediction of microRNA (miRNA) target mRNAs using machine learning approaches is an important area of research. However, most of the methods suffer from either high false positive or false negative rates. One reason for this is the marked deficiency of negative examples or miRNA non-target pairs. Systematic identification of non-target mRNAs is still not addressed properly, and therefore, current machine learning approaches are compelled to rely on artificially generated negative examples for training.

Results: In this article, we have identified ∼300 tissue-specific negative examples using a novel approach that involves expression profiling of both miRNAs and mRNAs, miRNA–mRNA structural interactions and seed-site conservation. The newly generated negative examples are validated with pSILAC dataset, which elucidate the fact that the identified non-targets are indeed non-targets.These high-throughput tissue-specific negative examples and a set of experimentally verified positive examples are then used to build a system called TargetMiner, a support vector machine (SVM)-based classifier. In addition to assessing the prediction accuracy on cross-validation experiments, TargetMiner has been validated with a completely independent experimental test dataset. Our method outperforms 10 existing target prediction algorithms and provides a good balance between sensitivity and specificity that is not reflected in the existing methods. We achieve a significantly higher sensitivity and specificity of 69% and 67.8% based on a pool of 90 feature set and 76.5% and 66.1% using a set of 30 selected feature set on the completely independent test dataset.

In order to establish the effectiveness of the systematically generated negative examples, the SVM is trained using a different set of negative data generated using the method in Yousef et al. A significantly higher false positive rate (70.6%) is observed when tested on the independent set, while all other factors are kept the same. Again, when an existing method (NBmiRTar) is executed with the our proposed negative data, we observe an improvement in its performance. These clearly establish the effectiveness of the proposed approach of selecting the negative examples systematically.

Availability: TargetMiner is now available as an online tool at∼bioinfo_miu


Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Journal Article.  6173 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

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