DeepTorrent: a deep learning-based approach for predicting DNA N4-methylcytosine sites

Quanzhong Liu, Jinxiang Chen, Yanze Wang, Shuqin Li, Cangzhi Jia, Jiangning Song, Fuyi Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


DNA N4-methylcytosine (4mC) is an important epigenetic modification that plays a vital role in regulating DNA replication and expression. However, it is challenging to detect 4mC sites through experimental methods, which are time-consuming and costly. Thus, computational tools that can identify 4mC sites would be very useful for understanding the mechanism of this important type of DNA modification. Several machine learning-based 4mC predictors have been proposed in the past 3 years, although their performance is unsatisfactory. Deep learning is a promising technique for the development of more accurate 4mC site predictions. In this work, we propose a deep learning-based approach, called DeepTorrent, for improved prediction of 4mC sites from DNA sequences. It combines four different feature encoding schemes to encode raw DNA sequences and employs multi-layer convolutional neural networks with an inception module integrated with bidirectional long short-term memory to effectively learn the higher-order feature representations. Dimension reduction and concatenated feature maps from the filters of different sizes are then applied to the inception module. In addition, an attention mechanism and transfer learning techniques are also employed to train the robust predictor. Extensive benchmarking experiments demonstrate that DeepTorrent significantly improves the performance of 4mC site prediction compared with several state-of-the-art methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbbaa124
Number of pages14
JournalBriefings in Bioinformatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • DNA N4-methylcytosine sites
  • bioinformatics
  • sequence analysis
  • machine learning
  • deep learning

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