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Identification of virulence factors (VFs) is critical to the elucidation of bacterial pathogenesis and prevention of related infectious diseases. Current computational methods for VF prediction focus on binary classification or involve only several class(es) of VFs with sufficient samples. However, thousands of VF classes are present in real-world scenarios, and many of them only have a very limited number of samples available. We first construct a large VF dataset, covering 3446 VF classes with 160 495 sequences, and then propose deep convolutional neural network models for VF classification. We show that (i) for common VF classes with sufficient samples, our models can achieve state-of-the-art performance with an overall accuracy of 0.9831 and an F1-score of 0.9803; (ii) for uncommon VF classes with limited samples, our models can learn transferable features from auxiliary data and achieve good performance with accuracy ranging from 0.9277 to 0.9512 and F1-score ranging from 0.9168 to 0.9446 when combined with different predefined features, outperforming traditional classifiers by 1-13% in accuracy and by 1-16% in F1-score. All of our datasets are made publicly available at, and the source code of our models is publicly available at Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Dandan Zheng, Guansong Pang, Bo Liu, Lihong Chen, Jian Yang. Learning transferable deep convolutional neural networks for the classification of bacterial virulence factors. Bioinformatics (Oxford, England). 2020 Jun 01;36(12):3693-3702

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PMID: 32251507

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