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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Inferring gene ontologies from pairwise similarity data.

  • Author(s): Kramer, Michael
  • Dutkowski, Janusz
  • Yu, Michael
  • Bafna, Vineet
  • Ideker, Trey
  • et al.

MOTIVATION:While the manually curated Gene Ontology (GO) is widely used, inferring a GO directly from -omics data is a compelling new problem. Recognizing that ontologies are a directed acyclic graph (DAG) of terms and hierarchical relations, algorithms are needed that: analyze a full matrix of gene-gene pairwise similarities from -omics data; infer true hierarchical structure in these data rather than enforcing hierarchy as a computational artifact; and respect biological pleiotropy, by which a term in the hierarchy can relate to multiple higher level terms. Methods addressing these requirements are just beginning to emerge-none has been evaluated for GO inference. METHODS:We consider two algorithms [Clique Extracted Ontology (CliXO), LocalFitness] that uniquely satisfy these requirements, compared with methods including standard clustering. CliXO is a new approach that finds maximal cliques in a network induced by progressive thresholding of a similarity matrix. We evaluate each method's ability to reconstruct the GO biological process ontology from a similarity matrix based on (a) semantic similarities for GO itself or (b) three -omics datasets for yeast. RESULTS:For task (a) using semantic similarity, CliXO accurately reconstructs GO (>99% precision, recall) and outperforms other approaches (<20% precision, <20% recall). For task (b) using -omics data, CliXO outperforms other methods using two -omics datasets and achieves ∼30% precision and recall using YeastNet v3, similar to an earlier approach (Network Extracted Ontology) and better than LocalFitness or standard clustering (20-25% precision, recall). CONCLUSION:This study provides algorithmic foundation for building gene ontologies by capturing hierarchical and pleiotropic structure embedded in biomolecular data.

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