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Bioinformatics. 2011 Mar 1;27(5):693-9. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btq711. Epub 2010 Dec 21.

Improvements in the reconstruction of time-varying gene regulatory networks: dynamic programming and regularization by information sharing among genes.

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  • 1Department of Statistics, TU Dortmund University, Dortmund, Germany.



Dynamic Bayesian networks (DBNs) have been applied widely to reconstruct the structure of regulatory processes from time series data, and they have established themselves as a standard modelling tool in computational systems biology. The conventional approach is based on the assumption of a homogeneous Markov chain, and many recent research efforts have focused on relaxing this restriction. An approach that enjoys particular popularity is based on a combination of a DBN with a multiple changepoint process, and the application of a Bayesian inference scheme via reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo (RJMCMC). In the present article, we expand this approach in two ways. First, we show that a dynamic programming scheme allows the changepoints to be sampled from the correct conditional distribution, which results in improved convergence over RJMCMC. Second, we introduce a novel Bayesian clustering and information sharing scheme among nodes, which provides a mechanism for automatic model complexity tuning.


We evaluate the dynamic programming scheme on expression time series for Arabidopsis thaliana genes involved in circadian regulation. In a simulation study we demonstrate that the regularization scheme improves the network reconstruction accuracy over that obtained with recently proposed inhomogeneous DBNs. For gene expression profiles from a synthetically designed Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain under switching carbon metabolism we show that the combination of both: dynamic programming and regularization yields an inference procedure that outperforms two alternative established network reconstruction methods from the biology literature.


A MATLAB implementation of the algorithm and a supplementary paper with algorithmic details and further results for the Arabidopsis data can be downloaded from:

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