Utilizing genomic signatures to gain insights into the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through Machine and Deep Learning techniques

Ahmed M.A. Elsherbini, Amr Hassan Elkholy, Youssef M. Fadel, Gleb Goussarov, Ahmed Mohamed Elshal, Mohamed El-Hadidi, Mohamed Mysara

    Research outputpeer-review


    The global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, originating in Wuhan, China, has had profound consequences on both health and the economy. Traditional alignment-based phylogenetic tree methods for tracking epidemic dynamics demand substantial computational power due to the growing number of sequenced strains. Consequently, there is a pressing need for an alignment-free approach to characterize these strains and monitor the dynamics of various variants. In this work, we introduce a swift and straightforward tool named GenoSig, implemented in C++. The tool exploits the Di and Tri nucleotide frequency signatures to delineate the taxonomic lineages of SARS-CoV-2 by employing diverse machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) models. Our approach achieved a tenfold cross-validation accuracy of 87.88% (± 0.013) for DL and 86.37% (± 0.0009) for Random Forest (RF) model, surpassing the performance of other ML models. Validation using an additional unexposed dataset yielded comparable results. Despite variations in architectures between DL and RF, it was observed that later clades, specifically GRA, GRY, and GK, exhibited superior performance compared to earlier clades G and GH. As for the continental origin of the virus, both DL and RF models exhibited lower performance than in predicting clades. However, both models demonstrated relatively higher accuracy for Europe, North America, and South America compared to other continents, with DL outperforming RF. Both models consistently demonstrated a preference for cytosine and guanine over adenine and thymine in both clade and continental analyses, in both Di and Tri nucleotide frequencies signatures. Our findings suggest that GenoSig provides a straightforward approach to address taxonomic, epidemiological, and biological inquiries, utilizing a reductive method applicable not only to SARS-CoV-2 but also to similar research questions in an alignment-free context.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number131
    Number of pages17
    JournalBMC Bioinformatics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2024

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Structural Biology
    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Applied Mathematics

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