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Development of machine learning solutions for prediction of functional and clinical significance of cancer driver genes and mutations are paramount in modern biomedical research and have gained a significant momentum in a recent decade. In this work, we integrate different machine learning approaches, including tree based methods, random forest and gradient boosted tree (GBT) classifiers along with deep convolutional neural networks (CNN) for prediction of cancer driver mutations in the genomic datasets. The feasibility of CNN in using raw nucleotide sequences for classification of cancer driver mutations was initially explored by employing label encoding, one hot encoding, and embedding to preprocess the DNA information. These classifiers were benchmarked against their tree-based alternatives in order to evaluate the performance on a relative scale. We then integrated DNA-based scores generated by CNN with various categories of conservational, evolutionary and functional features into a generalized random forest classifier. The results of this study have demonstrated that CNN can learn high level features from genomic information that are complementary to the ensemble-based predictors often employed for classification of cancer mutations. By combining deep learning-generated score with only two main ensemble-based functional features, we can achieve a superior performance of various machine learning classifiers. Our findings have also suggested that synergy of nucleotide-based deep learning scores and integrated metrics derived from protein sequence conservation scores can allow for robust classification of cancer driver mutations with a limited number of highly informative features. Machine learning predictions are leveraged in molecular simulations, protein stability, and network-based analysis of cancer mutations in the protein kinase genes to obtain insights about molecular signatures of driver mutations and enhance the interpretability of cancer-specific classification models.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, volume 6, in 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2019.00044

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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