Ensemble Machine Learning to “Boost” Ubiquitination-sites Prediction

Author(s): Xiaoye Mo, Xia Jiang

Ubiquitination-site prediction is an important task because ubiquitination is a critical regulatory function for many biological processes such as proteasome degradation, DNA repair and transcription, signal transduction, endocytoses, and sorting. However, the highly dynamic and reversible nature of ubiquitination makes it difficult to experimentally identify specific ubiquitination sites. In this paper, we explore the possibility of improving the prediction of ubiquitination sites using ensemble machine learning methods including Random Forest (RF), Adaptive Boosting (ADB), Gradient Boosting (GB), and eXtreme Gradient Boosting (XGB). By doing grid search with the 4 ensemble methods and 6 comparison non-ensemble learning methods including Naïve Base (NB), Logistic Regression (LR), Decision Trees (DT), Support Vector Machine (SVM), LASSO, and k-Nearest Neighbor (KNN), we find that all the four ensemble methods significantly outperform one or more non-ensemble methods included in this study. XGB outperforms 3 out of the 6 nonensemble methods that we included; ADB and RF both outperform 2 of the 6 non-ensemble methods; GB outperforms one non-ensemble method. Comparing the four ensemble methods among themselves. GB performs the worst; XGB and ADB are very comparable in terms of prediction, but ADB beats XGB by far in terms of both the unit model training time and total running time. Both XGB and ADB tend to do better than RF in terms of prediction, but RF has the shortest unit model training time out of the three. In addition, we notice that ADB tends to outperform XGB when dealing with small-scale datasets, and RF can outperform either ADB or XGB when data are less balanced. Interestingly, we find that SVM, LR, and LASSO, three of the non-ensemble methods included, perform comparably with all the ensemble methods. Based on this study, ensemble is a promising way of significantly improving Ubiquitinationsite prediction using protein segment data.

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