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Comp Funct Genomics. 2011;2011:463645. doi: 10.1155/2011/463645. Epub 2011 May 22.

Applications of different weighting schemes to improve pathway-based analysis.

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  • 1Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech, Arlington, VA 22203, USA.


Conventionally, pathway-based analysis assumes that genes in a pathway equally contribute to a biological function, thus assigning uniform weight to genes. However, this assumption has been proved incorrect, and applying uniform weight in the pathway analysis may not be an appropriate approach for the tasks like molecular classification of diseases, as genes in a functional group may have different predicting power. Hence, we propose to use different weights to genes in pathway-based analysis and devise four weighting schemes. We applied them in two existing pathway analysis methods using both real and simulated gene expression data for pathways. Among all schemes, random weighting scheme, which generates random weights and selects optimal weights minimizing an objective function, performs best in terms of P value or error rate reduction. Weighting changes pathway scoring and brings up some new significant pathways, leading to the detection of disease-related genes that are missed under uniform weight.

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