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PLoS Comput Biol. 2012;8(6):e1002566. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002566. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Posterior association networks and functional modules inferred from rich phenotypes of gene perturbations.

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  • 1Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Combinatorial gene perturbations provide rich information for a systematic exploration of genetic interactions. Despite successful applications to bacteria and yeast, the scalability of this approach remains a major challenge for higher organisms such as humans. Here, we report a novel experimental and computational framework to efficiently address this challenge by limiting the 'search space' for important genetic interactions. We propose to integrate rich phenotypes of multiple single gene perturbations to robustly predict functional modules, which can subsequently be subjected to further experimental investigations such as combinatorial gene silencing. We present posterior association networks (PANs) to predict functional interactions between genes estimated using a Bayesian mixture modelling approach. The major advantage of this approach over conventional hypothesis tests is that prior knowledge can be incorporated to enhance predictive power. We demonstrate in a simulation study and on biological data, that integrating complementary information greatly improves prediction accuracy. To search for significant modules, we perform hierarchical clustering with multiscale bootstrap resampling. We demonstrate the power of the proposed methodologies in applications to Ewing's sarcoma and human adult stem cells using publicly available and custom generated data, respectively. In the former application, we identify a gene module including many confirmed and highly promising therapeutic targets. Genes in the module are also significantly overrepresented in signalling pathways that are known to be critical for proliferation of Ewing's sarcoma cells. In the latter application, we predict a functional network of chromatin factors controlling epidermal stem cell fate. Further examinations using ChIP-seq, ChIP-qPCR and RT-qPCR reveal that the basis of their genetic interactions may arise from transcriptional cross regulation. A Bioconductor package implementing PAN is freely available online at http://bioconductor.org/packages/release/bioc/html/PANR.html.

PMID:
22761558
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3386165
Free PMC Article

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