Consensus Network Inference of Microarray Gene Expression Data
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Genetic and protein interactions are essential to regulate cellular machinery. Their identification has become an important aim of systems biology research. In recent years, a variety of computational network inference algorithms have been employed to reconstruct gene regulatory networks from post-genomic data. However, precisely predicting these regulatory networks remains a challenge. We began our study by assessing the ability of various network inference algorithms to accurately predict gene regulatory interactions using benchmark simulated datasets. It was observed from our analysis that different algorithms have strengths and weaknesses when identifying regulatory networks, with a gene-pair interaction (edge) predicted by one algorithm not always necessarily consistent with the other. An edge not predicted by most inference algorithms may be an important one, and should not be missed. The naïve consensus (intersection) method is perhaps the most conservative approach and can be used to address this concern by extracting the edges consistently predicted across all inference algorithms; however, it lacks credibility as it does not provide a quantifiable measure for edge weights. Existing quantitative consensus approaches, such as the inverse-variance weighted method (IVWM) and the Borda count election method (BCEM), have been previously implemented to derive consensus networks from diverse datasets. However, the former method was biased towards finding local solutions in the whole network, and the latter considered species diversity to build the consensus network. In this thesis we proposed a novel consensus approach, in which we used Fishers Combined Probability Test (FCPT) to combine the statistical significance values assigned to each network edge by a number of different networking algorithms to produce a consensus network. We tested our method by applying it to a variety of in silico benchmark expression datasets of different dimensions and evaluated its performance against individual inference methods, Bayesian models and also existing qualitative and quantitative consensus techniques. We also applied our approach to real experimental data from the yeast (S. cerevisiae) network as this network has been comprehensively elucidated previously. Our results demonstrated that the FCPT-based consensus method outperforms single algorithms in terms of robustness and accuracy. In developing the consensus approach, we also proposed a scoring technique that quantifies biologically meaningful hierarchical modular networks.
University of Exeter studentship
A consensus approach to predict regulatory interactions
Comparative analysis of network algorithms to address modularity with gene expression temporal data
PhD in Biological Sciences