Prediction of RNA secondary structure by maximizing pseudo-expected accuracy

Michiaki Hamada, Kengo Sato, Kiyoshi Asai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent studies have revealed the importance of considering the entire distribution of possible secondary structures in RNA secondary structure predictions; therefore, a new type of estimator is proposed including the maximum expected accuracy (MEA) estimator. The MEA-based estimators have been designed to maximize the expected accuracy of the base-pairs and have achieved the highest level of accuracy. Those methods, however, do not give the single best prediction of the structure, but employ parameters to control the trade-off between the sensitivity and the positive predictive value (PPV). It is unclear what parameter value we should use, and even the well-trained default parameter value does not, in general, give the best result in popular accuracy measures to each RNA sequence.Results: Instead of using the expected values of the popular accuracy measures for RNA secondary structure prediction, which is difficult to be calculated, the pseudo-expected accuracy, which can easily be computed from base-pairing probabilities, is introduced. It is shown that the pseudo-expected accuracy is a good approximation in terms of sensitivity, PPV, MCC, or F-score. The pseudo-expected accuracy can be approximately maximized for each RNA sequence by stochastic sampling. It is also shown that well-balanced secondary structures between sensitivity and PPV can be predicted with a small computational overhead by combining the pseudo-expected accuracy of MCC or F-score with the γ-centroid estimator.Conclusions: This study gives not only a method for predicting the secondary structure that balances between sensitivity and PPV, but also a general method for approximately maximizing the (pseudo-)expected accuracy with respect to various evaluation measures including MCC and F-score.

Original languageEnglish
Article number586
JournalBMC bioinformatics
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov 30
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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