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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2004 Dec;15(6):703-13.

Design and analysis of experiments with high throughput biological assay data.

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  • 1Division of Biostatistics, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The design and analysis of experiments using gene expression microarrays is a topic of considerable current research, and work is beginning to appear on the analysis of proteomics and metabolomics data by mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy. The literature in this area is evolving rapidly, and commercial software for analysis of array or proteomics data is rarely up to date, and is essentially nonexistent for metabolomics data. In this paper, I review some of the issues that should concern any biologists planning to use such high-throughput biological assay data in an experimental investigation. Technical details are kept to a minimum, and may be found in the referenced literature, as well as in the many excellent papers which space limitations prevent my describing. There are usually a number of viable options for design and analysis of such experiments, but unfortunately, there are even more non-viable ones that have been used even in the published literature. This is an area in which up-to-date knowledge of the literature is indispensable for efficient and effective design and analysis of these experiments. In general, we concentrate on relatively simple analyses, often focusing on identifying differentially expressed genes and the comparable issues in mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy (consistent differences in peak heights or areas for example). Complex multivariate and pattern recognition methods also need much attention, but the issues we describe in this paper must be dealt with first. The literature on analysis of proteomics and metabolomics data is as yet sparse, so the main focus of this paper will be on methods devised for analysis of gene expression data that generalize to proteomics and metabolomics, with some specific comments near the end on analysis of metabolomics data by mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy.

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