Pathogenic potential assessment of the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli by a source attribution-considered machine learning model

Hanhyeok Im, Seung Ho Hwang, Byoung Sik Kim, Sang Ho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Instead of conventional serotyping and virulence gene combination methods, methods have been developed to evaluate the pathogenic potential of newly emerging pathogens. Among them, the machine learning (ML)-based method using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data are getting attention because of the recent advances in ML algorithms and sequencing technologies. Here, we developed various ML models to predict the pathogenicity of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) isolates using their WGS data. The input dataset for the ML models was generated using distinct gene repertoires from positive (pathogenic) and negative (nonpathogenic) control groups in which each STEC isolate was designated based on the source attribution, the relative risk potential of the isolation sources. Among the various ML models examined, a model using the support vector machine (SVM) algorithm, the SVM model, discriminated between the two control groups most accurately. The SVM model successfully predicted the pathogenicity of the isolates from the major sources of STEC outbreaks, the isolates with the history of outbreaks, and the isolates that cannot be assessed by conventional methods. Furthermore, the SVM model effectively differentiated the pathogenic potentials of the isolates at a finer resolution. Permutation importance analyses of the input dataset further revealed the genes important for the estimation, proposing the genes potentially essential for the pathogenicity of STEC. Altogether, these results suggest that the SVM model is a more reliable and broadly applicable method to evaluate the pathogenic potential of STEC isolates compared with conventional methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2018877118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - 18 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea and funded by the Ministry of Science, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Future Planning (2017R1E1A1A01074639).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Machine learning
  • Pathogenic potential
  • Risk assessment
  • STEC


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathogenic potential assessment of the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli by a source attribution-considered machine learning model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this