Feasibility of predicting allele specific expression from DNA sequencing using machine learning

Zhenhua Zhang, Freerk van Dijk, Niek de Klein, Marielle E. van Gijn, Lude H. Franke, Richard J. Sinke, Morris A. Swertz, K. Joeri van der Velde*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Allele specific expression (ASE) concerns divergent expression quantity of alternative alleles and is measured by RNA sequencing. Multiple studies show that ASE plays a role in hereditary diseases by modulating penetrance or phenotype severity. However, genome diagnostics is based on DNA sequencing and therefore neglects gene expression regulation such as ASE. To take advantage of ASE in absence of RNA sequencing, it must be predicted using only DNA variation. We have constructed ASE models from BIOS (n = 3432) and GTEx (n = 369) that predict ASE using DNA features. These models are highly reproducible and comprise many different feature types, highlighting the complex regulation that underlies ASE. We applied the BIOS-trained model to population variants in three genes in which ASE plays a clinically relevant role: BRCA2, RET and NF1. This resulted in predicted ASE effects for 27 variants, of which 10 were known pathogenic variants. We demonstrated that ASE can be predicted from DNA features using machine learning. Future efforts may improve sensitivity and translate these models into a new type of genome diagnostic tool that prioritizes candidate pathogenic variants or regulators thereof for follow-up validation by RNA sequencing. All used code and machine learning models are available at GitHub and Zenodo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10606
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19-May-2021


  • RNA
  • RISK
  • RARE

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