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PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Jul 1;6:e1000837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000837.

A comprehensive benchmark of kernel methods to extract protein-protein interactions from literature.

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  • 1Knowledge Management in Bioinformatics, Computer Science Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


The most important way of conveying new findings in biomedical research is scientific publication. Extraction of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) reported in scientific publications is one of the core topics of text mining in the life sciences. Recently, a new class of such methods has been proposed - convolution kernels that identify PPIs using deep parses of sentences. However, comparing published results of different PPI extraction methods is impossible due to the use of different evaluation corpora, different evaluation metrics, different tuning procedures, etc. In this paper, we study whether the reported performance metrics are robust across different corpora and learning settings and whether the use of deep parsing actually leads to an increase in extraction quality. Our ultimate goal is to identify the one method that performs best in real-life scenarios, where information extraction is performed on unseen text and not on specifically prepared evaluation data. We performed a comprehensive benchmarking of nine different methods for PPI extraction that use convolution kernels on rich linguistic information. Methods were evaluated on five different public corpora using cross-validation, cross-learning, and cross-corpus evaluation. Our study confirms that kernels using dependency trees generally outperform kernels based on syntax trees. However, our study also shows that only the best kernel methods can compete with a simple rule-based approach when the evaluation prevents information leakage between training and test corpora. Our results further reveal that the F-score of many approaches drops significantly if no corpus-specific parameter optimization is applied and that methods reaching a good AUC score often perform much worse in terms of F-score. We conclude that for most kernels no sensible estimation of PPI extraction performance on new text is possible, given the current heterogeneity in evaluation data. Nevertheless, our study shows that three kernels are clearly superior to the other methods.

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