Off-target predictions in CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing using deep learning

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i656-i663
Journal / PublicationBioinformatics
Issue number17
Online published8 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018



Motivation: The prediction of off-target mutations in CRISPR-Cas9 is a hot topic due to its relevance to gene editing research. Existing prediction methods have been developed; however, most of them just calculated scores based on mismatches to the guide sequence in CRISPR-Cas9. Therefore, the existing prediction methods are unable to scale and improve their performance with the rapid expansion of experimental data in CRISPR-Cas9. Moreover, the existing methods still can not satisfy enough precision in off-target predictions for gene editing at the clinical level.
Results: To address it, we design and implement two algorithms using deep neural networks to predict off-target mutations in CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing (i.e. deep convolutional neural network and deep feedforward neural network). The models were trained and tested on the recently released off-target dataset, CRISPOR dataset, for performance benchmark. Another off-target dataset identified by GUIDE-seq was adopted for additional evaluation. We demonstrate that convolutional neural network achieves the best performance on CRISPOR dataset, yielding an average classification area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 97.2% under 5-fold cross-validation. Interestingly, the deep feedforward neural network can also be competitive at the average AUC of 97.0% under the same setting. We compare the two deep neural network models with the state-of-the-art off-target prediction methods (i.e. CFD, MIT, CROP-IT, and CCTop) and three traditional machine learning models (i.e. Random Forest, Gradient Boosting Trees, and Logistic Regression) on both datasets in terms of AUC values, demonstrating the competitive edges of the proposed algorithms. Additional analyses are conducted to investigate the underlying reasons from different perspectives.

Research Area(s)

  • Bioinformatics

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