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PLoS One. 2007 Apr 18;2(4):e383.

Assessing performance of orthology detection strategies applied to eukaryotic genomes.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Abstract

Orthology detection is critically important for accurate functional annotation, and has been widely used to facilitate studies on comparative and evolutionary genomics. Although various methods are now available, there has been no comprehensive analysis of performance, due to the lack of a genomic-scale 'gold standard' orthology dataset. Even in the absence of such datasets, the comparison of results from alternative methodologies contains useful information, as agreement enhances confidence and disagreement indicates possible errors. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) is a statistical technique that can exploit this information to reasonably infer sensitivities and specificities, and is applied here to evaluate the performance of various orthology detection methods on a eukaryotic dataset. Overall, we observe a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity in orthology detection, with BLAST-based methods characterized by high sensitivity, and tree-based methods by high specificity. Two algorithms exhibit the best overall balance, with both sensitivity and specificity>80%: INPARANOID identifies orthologs across two species while OrthoMCL clusters orthologs from multiple species. Among methods that permit clustering of ortholog groups spanning multiple genomes, the (automated) OrthoMCL algorithm exhibits better within-group consistency with respect to protein function and domain architecture than the (manually curated) KOG database, and the homolog clustering algorithm TribeMCL as well. By way of using LCA, we are also able to comprehensively assess similarities and statistical dependence between various strategies, and evaluate the effects of parameter settings on performance. In summary, we present a comprehensive evaluation of orthology detection on a divergent set of eukaryotic genomes, thus providing insights and guides for method selection, tuning and development for different applications. Many biological questions have been addressed by multiple tests yielding binary (yes/no) outcomes but no clear definition of truth, making LCA an attractive approach for computational biology.

PMID:
17440619
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1849888
Free PMC Article
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