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BMC Bioinformatics. 2006 Jun 12;7:294.

ROKU: a novel method for identification of tissue-specific genes.

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  • 1Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan. kadota@iu.a.u-tokyo.ac.jp



One of the important goals of microarray research is the identification of genes whose expression is considerably higher or lower in some tissues than in others. We would like to have ways of identifying such tissue-specific genes.


We describe a method, ROKU, which selects tissue-specific patterns from gene expression data for many tissues and thousands of genes. ROKU ranks genes according to their overall tissue specificity using Shannon entropy and detects tissues specific to each gene if any exist using an outlier detection method. We evaluated the capacity for the detection of various specific expression patterns using synthetic and real data. We observed that ROKU was superior to a conventional entropy-based method in its ability to rank genes according to overall tissue specificity and to detect genes whose expression pattern are specific only to objective tissues.


ROKU is useful for the detection of various tissue-specific expression patterns. The framework is also directly applicable to the selection of diagnostic markers for molecular classification of multiple classes.

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