JMLR W&CP. ICML 2011 Unsupervised and Transfer Learning Workshop, 27:207–216, 2012
Computational Biology provides a wide range of applications for Multitask Learning (MTL) methods. As the generation of labels often is very costly in the biomedical domain, combining data from diﬀerent related problems or tasks is a promising strategy to reduce label cost. In this paper, we present two problems from sequence biology, where MTL was successfully applied. For this, we use regularization-based MTL methods, with a special focus on the case of a hierarchical relationship between tasks. Furthermore, we propose strategies to reﬁne the measure of task relatedness, which is of central importance in MTL and ﬁnally give some practical guidelines, when MTL strategies are likely to pay oﬀ.
Genetic differences between Arabidopsis thaliana accessions underlie the plant’s extensive phenotypic variation, and until now these have been interpreted largely in the context of the annotated reference accession Col-0. Here we report the sequencing, assembly and annotation of the genomes of 18 natural A. thaliana accessions, and their transcriptomes. When assessed on the basis of the reference annotation, one-third of protein-coding genes are predicted to be disrupted in at least one accession. However, re-annotation of each genome revealed that alternative gene models often restore coding potential. Gene expression in seedlings differed for nearly half of expressed genes and was frequently associated with cis variants within 5 kilobases, as were intron retention alternative splicing events. Sequence and expression variation is most pronounced in genes that respond to the biotic environment. Our data further promote evolutionary and functional studies in A. thaliana, especially the MAGIC genetic reference population descended from these accessions.
Nature Precedings, 2010:1-11, Biologische Kybernetik, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, May, 2010
As a fruit of the current revolution in sequencing technology, transcriptomes can now be analyzed at an unprecedented level of detail. These advances have been exploited for detecting differential expressed genes across biological samples and for quantifying the abundances of various RNA transcripts within one gene. However, explicit strategies for detecting the hidden differential abundances of RNA transcripts in biological samples have not been defined. In this work, we present two novel statistical tests to address this issue: a "gene structure sensitive" Poisson test for detecting differential expression when the transcript structure of the gene is known, and a kernel-based test called Maximum Mean Discrepancy when it is unknown. We analyzed the proposed approaches on simulated read data for two artificial samples as well as on factual reads generated by the Illumina Genome Analyzer for two C. elegans samples. Our analysis shows that the Poisson test identifies genes with differential transcript expression considerably better that previously proposed RNA transcript quantification approaches for this task. The MMD test is able to detect a large fraction (75%) of such differential cases without the knowledge of the annotated transcripts. It is therefore well-suited to analyze RNA-Seq experiments when the genome annotations are incomplete or not available, where other approaches have to fail.
The lack of sufficient training data is the limiting factor for many Machine Learning applications in Computational Biology. If data is available for several different but related problem domains, Multitask Learning algorithms can be used to learn a model based on all available information. In Bioinformatics, many problems can be cast into the Multitask Learning scenario by incorporating data from several organisms. However, combining information from several tasks requires careful consideration of the degree of similarity between tasks. Our proposed method simultaneously learns or refines the similarity between tasks along with the Multitask Learning classifier. This is done by formulating the Multitask Learning problem as Multiple Kernel Learning, using the recently published q-Norm MKL algorithm.
We shed light on the discrimination between patterns belonging to two different classes by casting this decoding problem into a generalized prototype framework. The discrimination process is then separated into two stages: a projection stage that reduces the dimensionality of the data by projecting it on a line and a threshold stage where the distributions of the projected patterns of both classes are separated. For this, we extend the popular mean-of-class prototype classification using algorithms from machine learning that satisfy a set of invariance properties. We report a simple yet general approach to express different types of linear classification algorithms in an identical and easy-to-visualize formal framework using generalized prototypes where these prototypes are used to express the normal vector and offset of the hyperplane. We investigate nonmargin classifiers such as the classical prototype classifier, the Fisher classifier, and the relevance vector machine. We then study hard and soft margin cl
assifiers such as the support vector machine and a boosted version of the prototype classifier. Subsequently, we relate mean-of-class prototype classification to other classification algorithms by showing that the prototype classifier is a limit of any soft margin classifier and that boosting a prototype classifier yields the support vector machine. While giving novel insights into classification per se by presenting a common and unified formalism, our generalized prototype framework also provides an efficient visualization and a principled comparison of machine learning classification.
We present a highly accurate gene-prediction system for eukaryotic genomes, called mGene. It combines in an unprecedented manner the flexibility of generalized hidden Markov models (gHMMs) with the predictive power of modern machine learning methods, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs). Its excellent performance was proved in an objective competition based on the genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Considering the average of sensitivity and specificity, the developmental version of mGene exhibited the best prediction performance on nucleotide, exon, and transcript level for ab initio and multiple-genome gene-prediction tasks. The fully developed version shows superior performance in 10 out of 12 evaluation criteria compared with the other participating gene finders, including Fgenesh++ and Augustus. An in-depth analysis of mGene's genome-wide predictions revealed that approximately 2200 predicted genes were not contained in the current genome annotation. Testing a subset of 57 of these genes by RT-PCR and sequencing, we confirmed expression for 24 (42%) of them. mGene missed 300 annotated genes, out of which 205 were unconfirmed. RT-PCR testing of 24 of these genes resulted in a success rate of merely 8%. These findings suggest that even the gene catalog of a well-studied organism such as C. elegans can be substantially improved by mGene's predictions. We also provide gene predictions for the four nematodes C. briggsae, C. brenneri, C. japonica, and C. remanei. Comparing the resulting proteomes among these organisms and to the known protein universe, we identified many species-specific gene inventions. In a quality assessment of several available annotations for these genomes, we find that mGene's predictions are most accurate.
Advances in neural information processing systems 21, Advances in neural information processing systems 21 : 22nd Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems 2008, NIPS 2008:1433-1440, Biologische Kybernetik, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, June, 2009
We study the problem of domain transfer for a supervised classification task in mRNA splicing. We consider a number of recent domain transfer methods from machine learning, including some that are novel, and evaluate them on genomic
sequence data from model organisms of varying evolutionary distance. We find that in cases where the organisms are not closely related, the use of domain adaptation methods can help improve classification performance.
We describe mGene.web, a web service for the genome-wide prediction of protein coding genes from eukaryotic DNA sequences. It offers pre-trained models for the recognition of gene structures including untranslated regions in an increasing number of organisms. With mGene.web, users have the additional possibility to train the system with their own data for other organisms on the push of a button, a functionality that will greatly accelerate the annotation of newly sequenced genomes. The system is built in a highly modular way, such that individual components of the framework, like the promoter prediction tool or the splice site predictor, can be used autonomously. The underlying gene finding system mGene is based on discriminative machine learning techniques and its high accuracy has been demonstrated in an international competition on nematode genomes. mGene.web is available at http://www.mgene.org/web, it is free of charge and can be used for eukaryotic genomes of small to moderate size (several hundred Mbp).
Gene expression maps for model organisms, including Arabidopsis thaliana, have typically been created using gene-centric expression arrays. Here, we describe a comprehensive expression atlas, Arabidopsis thaliana Tiling Array Express (At-TAX), which is based on whole-genome tiling arrays. We demonstrate that tiling arrays are accurate tools for gene expression analysis and identified more than 1,000 unannotated transcribed regions. Visualizations of gene expression estimates, transcribed regions, and tiling probe measurements are accessible online at the At-TAX homepage.
At the heart of many important bioinformatics problems, such as gene finding and function prediction, is the classification of biological sequences, above all of DNA and proteins. In many cases, the most accurate classifiers are obtained by training SVMs with complex sequence kernels, for instance for transcription starts or splice sites. However, an often criticized downside of SVMs with complex kernels is that it is very hard for humans to understand the learned decision rules and to derive biological insights from them. To close this gap, we introduce the concept of positional oligomer importance matrices (POIMs) and develop an efficient algorithm for their computation. We demonstrate how they overcome the limitations of sequence logos, and how they can be used to find relevant motifs for different biological phenomena in a straight-forward way. Note that the concept of POIMs is not limited to interpreting SVMs, but is applicable to general k−mer based scoring systems.
Open source tools have recently reached a level of maturity which makes them suitable for building large-scale real-world systems. At the same time, the field of machine learning has developed a large body of powerful learning algorithms for diverse applications. However, the true potential of these methods is not realized, since existing implementations are not openly shared, resulting in software with low usability, and weak interoperability. We argue that this situation can be significantly improved by increasing incentives for researchers to publish their software under an open source model. Additionally, we outline the problems authors are faced with when trying to publish algorithmic implementations of machine learning methods. We believe that a resource of peer reviewed software accompanied by short articles would be highly valuable to both the machine learning and the general scientific community.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems