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Journal of information and communication convergence engineering 2023; 21(2): 159-166

Published online June 30, 2023

https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

© Korea Institute of Information and Communication Engineering

Classification in Different Genera by Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit I Gene Using CNN-LSTM Hybrid Model

Meijing Li 1 and Dongkeun Kim2*

1Department of Artificial Intelligence and Data Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul 03016, Republic of Korea
2Department of Intelligent Engineering Informatics for Human, College of Convergence Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul 03016, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to : Dongkeun Kim (E-mail: dkim@smu.ac.kr)
Department of Intelligent Engineering Informatics for Human, College of Convergence Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul, 03016, Republic of Korea

Received: February 23, 2023; Revised: April 21, 2023; Accepted: May 8, 2023

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The COI gene is a sequence of approximately 650 bp at the 5' terminal of the mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. As an effective DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) barcode, it is widely used for the taxonomic identification and evolutionary analysis of species. We created a CNN-LSTM hybrid model by combining the gene features partially extracted by the Long Short-Term Memory ( LSTM ) network with the feature maps obtained by the CNN. Compared to K-Means Clustering, Support Vector Machines (SVM), and a single CNN classification model, after training 278 samples in a training set that included 15 genera from two orders, the CNN-LSTM hybrid model achieved 94% accuracy in the test set, which contained 118 samples. We augmented the training set samples and four genera into four orders, and the classification accuracy of the test set reached 100%. This study also proposes calculating the cosine similarity between the training and test sets to initially assess the reliability of the predicted results and discover new species.

Keywords COI gene, DNA barcode, CNN-LSTM hybrid, Species classification

A. Cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene

Mitochondrial DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) is the genetic structure of mitochondria and is an important organelle that produces energy (adenosine triphosphate) for cells. Because mitochondria mainly pass through egg cells, they have strong maternal genetic characteristics and enhance the genetic specificity of the species. As shown in Fig. 1, the Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) gene is a fragment of about 650 bp (a base pair is a basic unit of double-stranded nucleic acids consisting of two nucleobases bound to each other by hydrogen bonds) at the 5' terminal of the COI gene in mitochondrial Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). The evolutionary rate of the COI gene was high, and the variation between species was generally obvious. However, within the species, the variation was relatively conserved.

Fig. 1. Location of the MT- COI gene in the human mitochondrial genome. MT- COI is one of the three cytochrome c oxidase subunit mitochondrial genes and it is also called COX1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytochrome_c_oxidase_subunit_I).

Hebert conducted a series of confirmatory studies [1,2,3]; the first experiment used the COI gene to classify several species into their phyla and orders, and to classify several Lepidoptera insects into their own species; the second experiment selected about 2200 species from 11 animal phyla. After partial sequence comparison between the COI genes in intraspecific and closely related species, more than 90% of the species had significantly greater interspecific differences than intraspecific differences. The third experiment was performed on North American birds with better taxonomic studies. Most species can be distinguished by comparing their COI gene sequences.

B. Related Work

Traditional species identification requires a familiarity with the morphological characteristics of multiple groups. Therefore, manual classification requires large investments in resources and time. With the development of next-generation sequencing technology, acquisition of the COI gene has become faster and easier. The COI gene is widely used as an effective DNA barcode taxonomic identification. It can greatly reduce manpower, and at the same time, it will have better performance [4] for identifying species that are difficult to distinguish, such as small insects, or a period of inconspicuous morphological features, such as larval stages. This approach will facilitate the development of species identification methods. Many related research projects have been launched, including the AII Leps Barcode of Life and Fish Barcode of Life Initiative.

The statistical method of constructing a phylogenetic tree by genetic comparison can be used to understand the evolutionary history of organisms and distinguish between species. The neighbor-joining method can determine the adjacent taxa that have the closest genetic distance [5]. The maximum likelihood method was used to select a phylogenetic tree with the most significant likelihood value. These methods require extensive computation to establish differentiation systems; therefore, they are only suitable for a limited amount of data analysis.

With the development of artificial neural networks, classification processes have become faster and more efficient. Tampuu et al. developed a ViraMiner model containing two branches based on a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to predict the likelihood that an input DNA sequence is a virus [6]. Singh et al. utilized deep bidirectional Long Short- Term Memory (LSTM) to predict the origin of replication sequences in organisms [7]. Gunasekaran et al. used a hybrid model of CNN-LSTM for nine types of viruses: COVID, SARS, MERS, dengue, hepatitis, and influenza; the model achieved a high accuracy of 93.13% [8]. These models demonstrated that artificial neural networks perform well in the field of biological genetic information.

A. Data collection and data pre-processing

We used the GenBank nucleic acid sequence database in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to retrieve relevant genetic information in two orders, Rodentia and Lagomorpha, and the COI gene sequences of 396 animals were randomly obtained. They contained 15 different genera of animals: Rattus, Maxomys, Niviventer, Graomys, Eligmodontia, Phyllotis, Abrothrix, Akodon, Euneomys, Calomys, Tamias and Ochotona belonging to Rodentia order, and Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, Lepus belonging to Lagomorpha order. Finally, 278 and 118 samples were randomly selected as the training and test sets, respectively [9].

The one-hot encoding method can be used to encode nucleotides [10,11], so we used four types of vectors to represent Adenosine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G): [1,0,0,0], [0,1,0,0], [0,0,1,0], [0,0,0,1], and [0,0,0,0] The values in the vector were considered the probabilities of the four bases at each position in the DNA sequence. We performed an operation aligned sequences of the same length (729 bp). The input vector of the CNN was a 27 × 27 × 4 matrix, and that of the LSTM was a 4 × 729 matrix.

B. Classifier models

The K-means algorithm is a classic partition-based clustering method. The basic steps of the algorithm are as follows: (1) clustering is performed with k points in the space as centroids, (2) objects are classified in the nearest order, and (3) the value of the centroid of each cluster is updated iteratively until the best clustering result is obtained. However, clustering does not perform well when the data are unbalanced.

The Support Vector Machine (SVM) method has a positive effect on solving binary classification problems by creating a decision boundary that is the maximum-margin hyperplane. SVM parameters, such as the kernel and penalty parameters, have a significant influence on the complexity and performance of the prediction models [12]. SVM can perform nonlinear classification using the kernel method.

A CNN is a multilayer artificial neural network that uses weight-sharing and gradient back-propagation algorithms to train the model [13]. The CNN mainly consists of input layers, a convolutional layer for kernel computation to extract features, a Rectified Linear Unit layer, a pooling layer for dimensionality reduction, a fully connected layer for combining local features for classification, and an output layer to obtain confidence scores for predicting different categories using the softmax activation function.

The LSTM network [14] can memorize values for an indefinite length of time using four unique gates, as shown in Fig. 2(a): As shown in formula (1), the forget gate limits the impact of the previous state from the present state; as shown in formulas (2) and (3), the input gate for introducing inputs, as shown in formula (4), the c ell state c an b e updated; and as shown in formulas (5) and (6), the output gate determines the output value of this unit. In the formula (1~6), xt is the input at time t; bf, bi, bc, and bo are the bias respectively in the forget gate, input gate, cell state update, and output gate; wf, wi, wc, and wo respectively are the network weights in forget gate, input gate, cell state update, and output gate; ft, it, and ot respectively are the results of forget gate, input gate, and output gate at time t; ct-1, ct, and ct˜ respectively are the cell state at time t-1 and time t, and the candidate cell state at time t; ht-1 and ht respectively are the output at time t-1 and time t; σ is the logistic sigmoid function and tanh is the tanh function. The LSTM network retains important features through various gate functions, which can effectively slow down the gradient disappearance or explosion that may occur in long-sequence problems, and has better performance in long-sequence problems.

Fig. 2. Schematic diagram of cell state in LSTM. xt is the input at time t; ht are the output at time t; σ is the logistic sigmoid function and tanh is the tanh function; + for sum operation and × for multiplication operation.

ft=σ(wf[ht1,xt]+bf)

it=σ(wi[ht1,xt]+bi)

ct˜=tanh(wc[ht1,xt]+bc)

ct=ftct1+itc˜t

ot=σ(wo[ht1,xt]+bo)

ht=ottanh(ct)

C. CNN-LSTM Hybrid Models

We referred to other studies on gene classification and found that CNN are highly efficient classifiers. As described in [15], a conventional three-layer CNN model was developed to predict the effects of non-coding variants from genomic sequences only. Gene classification models do not require complex convolutional structures. Based on our experimental data, we found that the input vector of our CNN was only a 27 × 27 × 4 matrix; therefore, we decided to use CNN as our gene classification selector. We further optimized the performance of the CNN by adjusting its hyperparameters and achieved an accuracy of 91% on the test set. However, CNN convolutions typically require large amounts of data for feature learning. Given the limited amount of available COI gene data, enhancing the feature-extraction ability of the classification model is critical. As we all know, gene expression at the microscopic level determines the morphology of organisms at the macroscopic level. Organisms of the same species often have similar forms, resulting in differences in the probability of gene sequence arrangements at the microscopic level. Therefore, to take advantage of this characteristic, we chose to use the LSTM network, which performs well in long-series continuous prediction. We concatenate the feature maps of the CNN and LSTM networks and feed them into a CNN for classification prediction. A high accuracy of 94% was achieved for the same test set. Our model differs from traditional statistical methods because it is highly trainable and computationally efficient. In addition, our CNN-LSTM hybrid model achieved better classification performance than the CNN alone, even with a small amount of data, without increasing the number of training samples. From a biological perspective, we also explained that the mutability of genes could cause CNN networks to suffer from performance suppression, whereas the CNN-LSTM network improved the extraction of gene features by utilizing the differences in the probability of nucleotide arrangement in the genes, thus improving the performance of the classifier.

In the K-means algorithm model, 209 samples from the training set were classified correctly and 69 were classified incorrectly. The results indicated that the classification of the training set was not effective. Although inter-genera differences in COI genes are generally greater than intra-genera differences, there is still a certain degree of conserved sequences in the genes of the different genera, at the same time, there is a certain rate of variation in the genes within the genera. The inter- and intra-genera differences both had a significant impact on the results of this model. In the following section, we calculate the genetic distance of genes to discuss the reasons for this in depth.

Within the SVM algorithm model, which uses the linear kernel method and shows the best performance, 51 samples were correctly classified and 67 were incorrectly classified in the test set, with an accuracy rate of 43%. Owing to the uneven number of samples from various classes in the training set, overfitting the training set rendered the predictions less effective.

We compared the accuracy of the single CNN model with different hyperparameters, as listed in Tabel 1. The CNN model performed better than the other models, with 91% accuracy. For the experimental result that is genera Graomys and Phyllotis were be misclassified as Tamias, and Akodon was misclassified as Sylvilagus, we compute and compare Graomys Phyllotis and Phyllotis genera genetic distances in the testing set by Mega11, as shown in Fig. 3. Genetic distance refers to the degree of genetic difference between different species, in general, the genetic distance within a specie is relatively small. And as we analyzed, the genetic difference within the species can affect the accuracy of the model classification.

Fig. 3. There is the genetic distance of the 36 different testing samples, and different samples are recorded by Genbank ID. The data are used to analyze the Inter-genera and intra-genera genetic distance.

The average distances within Graomys genera is 0.0076, Phyllotis is 0.0075, and Tamia is 9.9188. There are large differences within the Tamia genera. The average distance between Graomys and Tamia is 6.1711. The mean inter-genus distance between Graomys and Tamia was smaller than the mean intra-genus distance of Tamia, increasing the possibility that Graomys was misclassified as Tamia during the classification process. The mean intergeneric distance between Phyllotis and Tamia was 20.6192. The distance between Phyllotis and Tamia was only twice that between Phyllotis and Tamia. In the case of incomplete feature extraction, the possibility of misclassifying Tamia could increase. The average genetic distance within Sylvilagu was 2.3636. However, the intergeneric distance between Sylvilagu and Akodon was only 1.6861. This increased the probability of Akodon being misclassified as Sylvilagu. Therefore, in the case of large intra-genera variations, the prediction results are likely to be affected, and the accuracy rate will be reduced.

Another factor that may affect the accuracy is likely caused by the CNN model. During the downsampling process, the extracted features are most likely to lose details. The encoded gene sequences were not similar to the image matrix and exhibited a strong correlation at the pixel level. As shown in Fig. 4, similar compositions of A+T and C+G bases in Graomys and Tamias or Akodon and Sylvilagus also increase the probability of misclassification.

Fig. 4. Base content of the genera Phyllotis, Graomys, Tamia, Akodon, and Sylvilagu among misclassified samples in the test set. The blue column indicates the proportion of Adenosine (A)-Thymine (T) base pairs, and the orange column indicates the proportion of Cytosine (C)-Guanine (G) base pairs.

The total number of permutations in the triplets was 64, a value well exceeding the number of amino acids (20). This indicates that many amino acids are specified by more than one codon, a phenomenon called degeneracy [16]. At the same time, morphologically close genera will produce closer gene expression, so we believe that the combination between bases is not completely random--the combination probability between different bases in triplets is different inter-genera. To take advantage of this characteristic, we used an LSTM network, which has good performance in long-series continuous prediction, such as text learning, which improves the classification ability of the network by extracting long-term sequential features. We built a CNN-LSTM hybrid model, as shown in Fig. 5. The CNN and LSTM networks were trained individually, and the feature map of the LSTM was merged with that of the CNN. Finally, the combined features are passed through the dense layer in the CNN to predict the genera. The results showed that 7 samples of Calomys were misclassified as Euneomys or Graomys, and the accuracy of the hybrid model was 94%.

Fig. 5. CNN-LSTM hybrid model. The structure of CNN network: Input layer; the first Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.2; the second Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’; Max-pooling layer: kernel size is (3,3); Flatten layer; the first Dense layer: the number of kernels is 729, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.4; the second Dense layer: the number of kernels is 15, the activation function is ‘softmax’. The structure of LSTM network: Input layer: the number of unites is 729, dropout coefficient is 0.1; Dense layer: the number of unites is 1.

We then added 17 Calomys samples to the training set. The number of samples in the training set was increased to 295, but the number of other genera in the training or test set remained unchanged. In addition, we retrained the model, and the prediction results of the test set were completely correct. To demonstrate the generality of the model, we used four genera: Parambassis (Actinopteri order), Hygrobates (Trombidiformes order), Nephrops (Decapodaorder), Bombus (Hymenoptera order). The training set was increased to 315 samples and the test set was increased to 126. The test set was completely classified using the CNN-LSTM hybrid model.

Table 1 . Hyperparameters of the CNN and accuracy of the test set. Contents in the table: the numbers on the left indicate the variables of the parameters, and the numbers on the right is the accuracy of the CNN network on the test set. The parameters marked in red are the final optimization parameters of the CNN

Hyper-parameters and accuracy
Number of kernels32, 78%64, 88%128, 83%256, 83%
Kernel size of Convolution layer2, 88%3, 80%4, 78%5, 78%
Kernel size of Max-pooling layer2, 88%3, 89%4, 89%5, 89%
Number of Convolution layer1, 88%2, 89%3, 78%4, 78%
Coefficient of dropout0.6, 84%0.5, 90%0.4, 91%0.3, 89%

We also performed non-feature combining; thus, the feature was first obtained through the CNN model and then passed into the LSTM network [17]. The experimental results were very similar to those obtained using a single CNN model. The LSTM network does not play an effective role. We did not increase the number of layers in the network further because our network is very simple and performs well in classification. This will also be more convenient for finetuning. In contrast to previous studies, we used the original DNA sequence directly instead of the K-Mer method for encoding [18]. This met method is very effective for small

DNA sequences, such as the COI gene, which ensures the transmission of genetic information and reduces complicated pre-processing process.

As stated by Alexandrov et al. [19], the overall separation of a set of mutational signatures can be evaluated by examining the distribution of cosine similarities between signatures. Similarly, to understand the model’s genus prediction results, we also referenced the cosine similarity values in the model. The formula is shown in formula (7): Ai and Bi are the components of vectors, and n is the size of the vector. We used the average of the feature vectors from the same genera in the training set shown in Formula (8), where m is the number of training samples. It can be used to measure the similarity between the test and training sets. This value can be used to measure the similarity between the test samples and training set. The closer the value is to 1, the greater the similarity between the two vectors. The values range from 0.733 to 0.999, as shown in Fig. 6. This indicates that the test sequence was highly similar to the training set.

Fig. 6. Statistics of cosine-similarity value in the test set samples.

A=j=1mm

A. Results and Discussion

In contrast to previous studies that calculated the K-Mer frequency [20], the bases of the COI gene were converted to a vector matrix by one-hot encoding and could work directly on the sequence to make the model more direct and convenient. The feature extraction ability of the model can be improved with 94% accuracy by combining two features that are separate from the CNN and LSTM networks. When 17 Calomys samples or four genera, the model performed significantly with an accuracy of 100%. This implies that the proposed model is trainable and applicable. Compared with the K-means and SVM algorithm models, our hybrid model is more concise and efficient. There is no need to rebuild the model when expanding the amount of data, but only to finetune it to optimize the model.

We referred to the cosine similarity value to understand the results and initially assess the reliability of the predictions. The test set maintained a high degree of similarity with the training set, with values between 0.733 and 0.999. We calculated the cosine similarity value of the Rattus sample compared to that of the Akodon sample, which was only 0.559. Therefore, classification results with lower similarity values indicate that they are likely to be misclassified or that a new species exists.

B. Future Research

We constructed a CNN-LSTM hybrid model because the genetic information in the database is unbalanced in quantity, and there is a large deviation in the number of randomly selected samples. Although good classification results have been achieved, in future research, we need to develop the model using a larger dataset or for species classification. Mitochondria may not have a sufficient and stable mutation rate if the species formation time is very short or if mitochondrial gene outflow is present in closely related species. This makes it difficult to classify COI genes. If we set a different cosine similarity threshold for every category, it could help quantitatively evaluate the prediction results and improve the function of the model.

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Meijing Li

is a M.S. student in the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Data Engineering at Sangmyung University. She received her B.S. degree in the Department of Biopharmaceutical from JILIN University in 2014. Her research areas include bioinformatics and data mining.


Dongkeun Kim

2003 Yonsei University Master's Degree in Medical Informatics

2008 Yonsei University Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

2009-present Professor at the Department of Human Intelligence and Information Engineering, Sangmyung University

2017-present Director of the Intelligent Information Technology Research Institute, Sangmyung University

2021-present Head of the Bio-Health Innovation Sharing University Unit, Sangmyung University

Areas of interest: Bio-Health, Biomedical Engineering, Data Mining, and Demand Forecasting


Article

Regular paper

Journal of information and communication convergence engineering 2023; 21(2): 159-166

Published online June 30, 2023 https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Copyright © Korea Institute of Information and Communication Engineering.

Classification in Different Genera by Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit I Gene Using CNN-LSTM Hybrid Model

Meijing Li 1 and Dongkeun Kim2*

1Department of Artificial Intelligence and Data Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul 03016, Republic of Korea
2Department of Intelligent Engineering Informatics for Human, College of Convergence Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul 03016, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:Dongkeun Kim (E-mail: dkim@smu.ac.kr)
Department of Intelligent Engineering Informatics for Human, College of Convergence Engineering, Sangmyung University, Seoul, 03016, Republic of Korea

Received: February 23, 2023; Revised: April 21, 2023; Accepted: May 8, 2023

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The COI gene is a sequence of approximately 650 bp at the 5' terminal of the mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. As an effective DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) barcode, it is widely used for the taxonomic identification and evolutionary analysis of species. We created a CNN-LSTM hybrid model by combining the gene features partially extracted by the Long Short-Term Memory ( LSTM ) network with the feature maps obtained by the CNN. Compared to K-Means Clustering, Support Vector Machines (SVM), and a single CNN classification model, after training 278 samples in a training set that included 15 genera from two orders, the CNN-LSTM hybrid model achieved 94% accuracy in the test set, which contained 118 samples. We augmented the training set samples and four genera into four orders, and the classification accuracy of the test set reached 100%. This study also proposes calculating the cosine similarity between the training and test sets to initially assess the reliability of the predicted results and discover new species.

Keywords: COI gene, DNA barcode, CNN-LSTM hybrid, Species classification

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene

Mitochondrial DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) is the genetic structure of mitochondria and is an important organelle that produces energy (adenosine triphosphate) for cells. Because mitochondria mainly pass through egg cells, they have strong maternal genetic characteristics and enhance the genetic specificity of the species. As shown in Fig. 1, the Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) gene is a fragment of about 650 bp (a base pair is a basic unit of double-stranded nucleic acids consisting of two nucleobases bound to each other by hydrogen bonds) at the 5' terminal of the COI gene in mitochondrial Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). The evolutionary rate of the COI gene was high, and the variation between species was generally obvious. However, within the species, the variation was relatively conserved.

Figure 1. Location of the MT- COI gene in the human mitochondrial genome. MT- COI is one of the three cytochrome c oxidase subunit mitochondrial genes and it is also called COX1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytochrome_c_oxidase_subunit_I).

Hebert conducted a series of confirmatory studies [1,2,3]; the first experiment used the COI gene to classify several species into their phyla and orders, and to classify several Lepidoptera insects into their own species; the second experiment selected about 2200 species from 11 animal phyla. After partial sequence comparison between the COI genes in intraspecific and closely related species, more than 90% of the species had significantly greater interspecific differences than intraspecific differences. The third experiment was performed on North American birds with better taxonomic studies. Most species can be distinguished by comparing their COI gene sequences.

B. Related Work

Traditional species identification requires a familiarity with the morphological characteristics of multiple groups. Therefore, manual classification requires large investments in resources and time. With the development of next-generation sequencing technology, acquisition of the COI gene has become faster and easier. The COI gene is widely used as an effective DNA barcode taxonomic identification. It can greatly reduce manpower, and at the same time, it will have better performance [4] for identifying species that are difficult to distinguish, such as small insects, or a period of inconspicuous morphological features, such as larval stages. This approach will facilitate the development of species identification methods. Many related research projects have been launched, including the AII Leps Barcode of Life and Fish Barcode of Life Initiative.

The statistical method of constructing a phylogenetic tree by genetic comparison can be used to understand the evolutionary history of organisms and distinguish between species. The neighbor-joining method can determine the adjacent taxa that have the closest genetic distance [5]. The maximum likelihood method was used to select a phylogenetic tree with the most significant likelihood value. These methods require extensive computation to establish differentiation systems; therefore, they are only suitable for a limited amount of data analysis.

With the development of artificial neural networks, classification processes have become faster and more efficient. Tampuu et al. developed a ViraMiner model containing two branches based on a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to predict the likelihood that an input DNA sequence is a virus [6]. Singh et al. utilized deep bidirectional Long Short- Term Memory (LSTM) to predict the origin of replication sequences in organisms [7]. Gunasekaran et al. used a hybrid model of CNN-LSTM for nine types of viruses: COVID, SARS, MERS, dengue, hepatitis, and influenza; the model achieved a high accuracy of 93.13% [8]. These models demonstrated that artificial neural networks perform well in the field of biological genetic information.

II. SYSTEM MODEL AND METHODS

A. Data collection and data pre-processing

We used the GenBank nucleic acid sequence database in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to retrieve relevant genetic information in two orders, Rodentia and Lagomorpha, and the COI gene sequences of 396 animals were randomly obtained. They contained 15 different genera of animals: Rattus, Maxomys, Niviventer, Graomys, Eligmodontia, Phyllotis, Abrothrix, Akodon, Euneomys, Calomys, Tamias and Ochotona belonging to Rodentia order, and Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, Lepus belonging to Lagomorpha order. Finally, 278 and 118 samples were randomly selected as the training and test sets, respectively [9].

The one-hot encoding method can be used to encode nucleotides [10,11], so we used four types of vectors to represent Adenosine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G): [1,0,0,0], [0,1,0,0], [0,0,1,0], [0,0,0,1], and [0,0,0,0] The values in the vector were considered the probabilities of the four bases at each position in the DNA sequence. We performed an operation aligned sequences of the same length (729 bp). The input vector of the CNN was a 27 × 27 × 4 matrix, and that of the LSTM was a 4 × 729 matrix.

B. Classifier models

The K-means algorithm is a classic partition-based clustering method. The basic steps of the algorithm are as follows: (1) clustering is performed with k points in the space as centroids, (2) objects are classified in the nearest order, and (3) the value of the centroid of each cluster is updated iteratively until the best clustering result is obtained. However, clustering does not perform well when the data are unbalanced.

The Support Vector Machine (SVM) method has a positive effect on solving binary classification problems by creating a decision boundary that is the maximum-margin hyperplane. SVM parameters, such as the kernel and penalty parameters, have a significant influence on the complexity and performance of the prediction models [12]. SVM can perform nonlinear classification using the kernel method.

A CNN is a multilayer artificial neural network that uses weight-sharing and gradient back-propagation algorithms to train the model [13]. The CNN mainly consists of input layers, a convolutional layer for kernel computation to extract features, a Rectified Linear Unit layer, a pooling layer for dimensionality reduction, a fully connected layer for combining local features for classification, and an output layer to obtain confidence scores for predicting different categories using the softmax activation function.

The LSTM network [14] can memorize values for an indefinite length of time using four unique gates, as shown in Fig. 2(a): As shown in formula (1), the forget gate limits the impact of the previous state from the present state; as shown in formulas (2) and (3), the input gate for introducing inputs, as shown in formula (4), the c ell state c an b e updated; and as shown in formulas (5) and (6), the output gate determines the output value of this unit. In the formula (1~6), xt is the input at time t; bf, bi, bc, and bo are the bias respectively in the forget gate, input gate, cell state update, and output gate; wf, wi, wc, and wo respectively are the network weights in forget gate, input gate, cell state update, and output gate; ft, it, and ot respectively are the results of forget gate, input gate, and output gate at time t; ct-1, ct, and ct˜ respectively are the cell state at time t-1 and time t, and the candidate cell state at time t; ht-1 and ht respectively are the output at time t-1 and time t; σ is the logistic sigmoid function and tanh is the tanh function. The LSTM network retains important features through various gate functions, which can effectively slow down the gradient disappearance or explosion that may occur in long-sequence problems, and has better performance in long-sequence problems.

Figure 2. Schematic diagram of cell state in LSTM. xt is the input at time t; ht are the output at time t; σ is the logistic sigmoid function and tanh is the tanh function; + for sum operation and × for multiplication operation.

ft=σ(wf[ht1,xt]+bf)

it=σ(wi[ht1,xt]+bi)

ct˜=tanh(wc[ht1,xt]+bc)

ct=ftct1+itc˜t

ot=σ(wo[ht1,xt]+bo)

ht=ottanh(ct)

C. CNN-LSTM Hybrid Models

We referred to other studies on gene classification and found that CNN are highly efficient classifiers. As described in [15], a conventional three-layer CNN model was developed to predict the effects of non-coding variants from genomic sequences only. Gene classification models do not require complex convolutional structures. Based on our experimental data, we found that the input vector of our CNN was only a 27 × 27 × 4 matrix; therefore, we decided to use CNN as our gene classification selector. We further optimized the performance of the CNN by adjusting its hyperparameters and achieved an accuracy of 91% on the test set. However, CNN convolutions typically require large amounts of data for feature learning. Given the limited amount of available COI gene data, enhancing the feature-extraction ability of the classification model is critical. As we all know, gene expression at the microscopic level determines the morphology of organisms at the macroscopic level. Organisms of the same species often have similar forms, resulting in differences in the probability of gene sequence arrangements at the microscopic level. Therefore, to take advantage of this characteristic, we chose to use the LSTM network, which performs well in long-series continuous prediction. We concatenate the feature maps of the CNN and LSTM networks and feed them into a CNN for classification prediction. A high accuracy of 94% was achieved for the same test set. Our model differs from traditional statistical methods because it is highly trainable and computationally efficient. In addition, our CNN-LSTM hybrid model achieved better classification performance than the CNN alone, even with a small amount of data, without increasing the number of training samples. From a biological perspective, we also explained that the mutability of genes could cause CNN networks to suffer from performance suppression, whereas the CNN-LSTM network improved the extraction of gene features by utilizing the differences in the probability of nucleotide arrangement in the genes, thus improving the performance of the classifier.

III. RESULTS

In the K-means algorithm model, 209 samples from the training set were classified correctly and 69 were classified incorrectly. The results indicated that the classification of the training set was not effective. Although inter-genera differences in COI genes are generally greater than intra-genera differences, there is still a certain degree of conserved sequences in the genes of the different genera, at the same time, there is a certain rate of variation in the genes within the genera. The inter- and intra-genera differences both had a significant impact on the results of this model. In the following section, we calculate the genetic distance of genes to discuss the reasons for this in depth.

Within the SVM algorithm model, which uses the linear kernel method and shows the best performance, 51 samples were correctly classified and 67 were incorrectly classified in the test set, with an accuracy rate of 43%. Owing to the uneven number of samples from various classes in the training set, overfitting the training set rendered the predictions less effective.

We compared the accuracy of the single CNN model with different hyperparameters, as listed in Tabel 1. The CNN model performed better than the other models, with 91% accuracy. For the experimental result that is genera Graomys and Phyllotis were be misclassified as Tamias, and Akodon was misclassified as Sylvilagus, we compute and compare Graomys Phyllotis and Phyllotis genera genetic distances in the testing set by Mega11, as shown in Fig. 3. Genetic distance refers to the degree of genetic difference between different species, in general, the genetic distance within a specie is relatively small. And as we analyzed, the genetic difference within the species can affect the accuracy of the model classification.

Figure 3. There is the genetic distance of the 36 different testing samples, and different samples are recorded by Genbank ID. The data are used to analyze the Inter-genera and intra-genera genetic distance.

The average distances within Graomys genera is 0.0076, Phyllotis is 0.0075, and Tamia is 9.9188. There are large differences within the Tamia genera. The average distance between Graomys and Tamia is 6.1711. The mean inter-genus distance between Graomys and Tamia was smaller than the mean intra-genus distance of Tamia, increasing the possibility that Graomys was misclassified as Tamia during the classification process. The mean intergeneric distance between Phyllotis and Tamia was 20.6192. The distance between Phyllotis and Tamia was only twice that between Phyllotis and Tamia. In the case of incomplete feature extraction, the possibility of misclassifying Tamia could increase. The average genetic distance within Sylvilagu was 2.3636. However, the intergeneric distance between Sylvilagu and Akodon was only 1.6861. This increased the probability of Akodon being misclassified as Sylvilagu. Therefore, in the case of large intra-genera variations, the prediction results are likely to be affected, and the accuracy rate will be reduced.

Another factor that may affect the accuracy is likely caused by the CNN model. During the downsampling process, the extracted features are most likely to lose details. The encoded gene sequences were not similar to the image matrix and exhibited a strong correlation at the pixel level. As shown in Fig. 4, similar compositions of A+T and C+G bases in Graomys and Tamias or Akodon and Sylvilagus also increase the probability of misclassification.

Figure 4. Base content of the genera Phyllotis, Graomys, Tamia, Akodon, and Sylvilagu among misclassified samples in the test set. The blue column indicates the proportion of Adenosine (A)-Thymine (T) base pairs, and the orange column indicates the proportion of Cytosine (C)-Guanine (G) base pairs.

The total number of permutations in the triplets was 64, a value well exceeding the number of amino acids (20). This indicates that many amino acids are specified by more than one codon, a phenomenon called degeneracy [16]. At the same time, morphologically close genera will produce closer gene expression, so we believe that the combination between bases is not completely random--the combination probability between different bases in triplets is different inter-genera. To take advantage of this characteristic, we used an LSTM network, which has good performance in long-series continuous prediction, such as text learning, which improves the classification ability of the network by extracting long-term sequential features. We built a CNN-LSTM hybrid model, as shown in Fig. 5. The CNN and LSTM networks were trained individually, and the feature map of the LSTM was merged with that of the CNN. Finally, the combined features are passed through the dense layer in the CNN to predict the genera. The results showed that 7 samples of Calomys were misclassified as Euneomys or Graomys, and the accuracy of the hybrid model was 94%.

Figure 5. CNN-LSTM hybrid model. The structure of CNN network: Input layer; the first Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.2; the second Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’; Max-pooling layer: kernel size is (3,3); Flatten layer; the first Dense layer: the number of kernels is 729, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.4; the second Dense layer: the number of kernels is 15, the activation function is ‘softmax’. The structure of LSTM network: Input layer: the number of unites is 729, dropout coefficient is 0.1; Dense layer: the number of unites is 1.

We then added 17 Calomys samples to the training set. The number of samples in the training set was increased to 295, but the number of other genera in the training or test set remained unchanged. In addition, we retrained the model, and the prediction results of the test set were completely correct. To demonstrate the generality of the model, we used four genera: Parambassis (Actinopteri order), Hygrobates (Trombidiformes order), Nephrops (Decapodaorder), Bombus (Hymenoptera order). The training set was increased to 315 samples and the test set was increased to 126. The test set was completely classified using the CNN-LSTM hybrid model.

Table 1 . Hyperparameters of the CNN and accuracy of the test set. Contents in the table: the numbers on the left indicate the variables of the parameters, and the numbers on the right is the accuracy of the CNN network on the test set. The parameters marked in red are the final optimization parameters of the CNN.

Hyper-parameters and accuracy
Number of kernels32, 78%64, 88%128, 83%256, 83%
Kernel size of Convolution layer2, 88%3, 80%4, 78%5, 78%
Kernel size of Max-pooling layer2, 88%3, 89%4, 89%5, 89%
Number of Convolution layer1, 88%2, 89%3, 78%4, 78%
Coefficient of dropout0.6, 84%0.5, 90%0.4, 91%0.3, 89%

We also performed non-feature combining; thus, the feature was first obtained through the CNN model and then passed into the LSTM network [17]. The experimental results were very similar to those obtained using a single CNN model. The LSTM network does not play an effective role. We did not increase the number of layers in the network further because our network is very simple and performs well in classification. This will also be more convenient for finetuning. In contrast to previous studies, we used the original DNA sequence directly instead of the K-Mer method for encoding [18]. This met method is very effective for small

DNA sequences, such as the COI gene, which ensures the transmission of genetic information and reduces complicated pre-processing process.

As stated by Alexandrov et al. [19], the overall separation of a set of mutational signatures can be evaluated by examining the distribution of cosine similarities between signatures. Similarly, to understand the model’s genus prediction results, we also referenced the cosine similarity values in the model. The formula is shown in formula (7): Ai and Bi are the components of vectors, and n is the size of the vector. We used the average of the feature vectors from the same genera in the training set shown in Formula (8), where m is the number of training samples. It can be used to measure the similarity between the test and training sets. This value can be used to measure the similarity between the test samples and training set. The closer the value is to 1, the greater the similarity between the two vectors. The values range from 0.733 to 0.999, as shown in Fig. 6. This indicates that the test sequence was highly similar to the training set.

Figure 6. Statistics of cosine-similarity value in the test set samples.

A=j=1mm

IV. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

A. Results and Discussion

In contrast to previous studies that calculated the K-Mer frequency [20], the bases of the COI gene were converted to a vector matrix by one-hot encoding and could work directly on the sequence to make the model more direct and convenient. The feature extraction ability of the model can be improved with 94% accuracy by combining two features that are separate from the CNN and LSTM networks. When 17 Calomys samples or four genera, the model performed significantly with an accuracy of 100%. This implies that the proposed model is trainable and applicable. Compared with the K-means and SVM algorithm models, our hybrid model is more concise and efficient. There is no need to rebuild the model when expanding the amount of data, but only to finetune it to optimize the model.

We referred to the cosine similarity value to understand the results and initially assess the reliability of the predictions. The test set maintained a high degree of similarity with the training set, with values between 0.733 and 0.999. We calculated the cosine similarity value of the Rattus sample compared to that of the Akodon sample, which was only 0.559. Therefore, classification results with lower similarity values indicate that they are likely to be misclassified or that a new species exists.

B. Future Research

We constructed a CNN-LSTM hybrid model because the genetic information in the database is unbalanced in quantity, and there is a large deviation in the number of randomly selected samples. Although good classification results have been achieved, in future research, we need to develop the model using a larger dataset or for species classification. Mitochondria may not have a sufficient and stable mutation rate if the species formation time is very short or if mitochondrial gene outflow is present in closely related species. This makes it difficult to classify COI genes. If we set a different cosine similarity threshold for every category, it could help quantitatively evaluate the prediction results and improve the function of the model.

Fig 1.

Figure 1.Location of the MT- COI gene in the human mitochondrial genome. MT- COI is one of the three cytochrome c oxidase subunit mitochondrial genes and it is also called COX1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytochrome_c_oxidase_subunit_I).
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Fig 2.

Figure 2.Schematic diagram of cell state in LSTM. xt is the input at time t; ht are the output at time t; σ is the logistic sigmoid function and tanh is the tanh function; + for sum operation and × for multiplication operation.
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Fig 3.

Figure 3.There is the genetic distance of the 36 different testing samples, and different samples are recorded by Genbank ID. The data are used to analyze the Inter-genera and intra-genera genetic distance.
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Fig 4.

Figure 4.Base content of the genera Phyllotis, Graomys, Tamia, Akodon, and Sylvilagu among misclassified samples in the test set. The blue column indicates the proportion of Adenosine (A)-Thymine (T) base pairs, and the orange column indicates the proportion of Cytosine (C)-Guanine (G) base pairs.
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Fig 5.

Figure 5.CNN-LSTM hybrid model. The structure of CNN network: Input layer; the first Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.2; the second Convolution layer: kernel size is (2,2), the number of kernels is 64, the activation function is ‘ReLU’; Max-pooling layer: kernel size is (3,3); Flatten layer; the first Dense layer: the number of kernels is 729, the activation function is ‘ReLU’, dropout coefficient is 0.4; the second Dense layer: the number of kernels is 15, the activation function is ‘softmax’. The structure of LSTM network: Input layer: the number of unites is 729, dropout coefficient is 0.1; Dense layer: the number of unites is 1.
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Fig 6.

Figure 6.Statistics of cosine-similarity value in the test set samples.
Journal of Information and Communication Convergence Engineering 2023; 21: 159-166https://doi.org/10.56977/jicce.2023.21.2.159

Table 1 . Hyperparameters of the CNN and accuracy of the test set. Contents in the table: the numbers on the left indicate the variables of the parameters, and the numbers on the right is the accuracy of the CNN network on the test set. The parameters marked in red are the final optimization parameters of the CNN.

Hyper-parameters and accuracy
Number of kernels32, 78%64, 88%128, 83%256, 83%
Kernel size of Convolution layer2, 88%3, 80%4, 78%5, 78%
Kernel size of Max-pooling layer2, 88%3, 89%4, 89%5, 89%
Number of Convolution layer1, 88%2, 89%3, 78%4, 78%
Coefficient of dropout0.6, 84%0.5, 90%0.4, 91%0.3, 89%

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