A Novel Machine Learning Based Framework for Modeling Transcription Elongation
Peiyuan Feng#, An Xiao#, Meng Fang, Fangping Wan, Shuya Li, Peng Lang, Dan Zhao*, and Jianyang Zeng*
RNA polymerase II (Pol II) generally pauses at certain positions along gene bodies, thereby interrupting the transcription elongation process, which is often coupled with various important biological functions, such as precursor mRNA splicing and gene expression regulation. Characterizing the transcriptional elongation dynamics can thus help us understand many essential biological processes in eukaryotic cells. However, experimentally measuring Pol II elongation rates is generally time and resource consuming. We developed PEPMAN (polymerase II elongation pausing modeling through attention-based deep neural network), a deep learning-based model that accurately predicts Pol II pausing sites based on the native elongating transcript sequencing (NET-seq) data. Through fully taking advantage of the attention mechanism, PEPMAN is able to decipher important sequence features underlying Pol II pausing. More importantly, we demonstrated that the analyses of the PEPMAN-predicted results around various types of alternative splicing sites can provide useful clues into understanding the cotranscriptional splicing events. In addition, associating the PEPMAN prediction results with different epigenetic features can help reveal important factors related to the transcription elongation process. All these results demonstrated that PEPMAN can provide a useful and effective tool for modeling transcription elongation and understanding the related biological factors from available high-throughput sequencing data.