Improved nucleic acid descriptors for siRNA efficacy prediction.

TitleImproved nucleic acid descriptors for siRNA efficacy prediction.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSciabola, Simone, Cao Qing, Orozco Modesto, Faustino Ignacio, and Stanton Robert V.
JournalNucleic Acids Res
Date Published2013 Feb 1
KeywordsAlgorithms, Models, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Regression Analysis, RNA, RNA Interference, Small Interfering, Software, Statistical, Support Vector Machine

Although considerable progress has been made recently in understanding how gene silencing is mediated by the RNAi pathway, the rational design of effective sequences is still a challenging task. In this article, we demonstrate that including three-dimensional descriptors improved the discrimination between active and inactive small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in a statistical model. Five descriptor types were used: (i) nucleotide position along the siRNA sequence, (ii) nucleotide composition in terms of presence/absence of specific combinations of di- and trinucleotides, (iii) nucleotide interactions by means of a modified auto- and cross-covariance function, (iv) nucleotide thermodynamic stability derived by the nearest neighbor model representation and (v) nucleic acid structure flexibility. The duplex flexibility descriptors are derived from extended molecular dynamics simulations, which are able to describe the sequence-dependent elastic properties of RNA duplexes, even for non-standard oligonucleotides. The matrix of descriptors was analysed using three statistical packages in R (partial least squares, random forest, and support vector machine), and the most predictive model was implemented in a modeling tool we have made publicly available through SourceForge. Our implementation of new RNA descriptors coupled with appropriate statistical algorithms resulted in improved model performance for the selection of siRNA candidates when compared with publicly available siRNA prediction tools and previously published test sets. Additional validation studies based on in-house RNA interference projects confirmed the robustness of the scoring procedure in prospective studies.