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Genome Biol. 2002 Aug 5;3(9):preprint0007. Epub 2002 Aug 5.

Ranking genes with respect to differential expression.

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Molecular Sciences, AstraZeneca R&D, Lund, Sweden.



In the pharmaceutical industry and in academia substantial efforts are made to make the best use of the promising microarray technology. The data generated by microarrays are more complex than most other biological data attracting much attention at this point. A method for finding an optimal test statistic with which to rank genes with respect to differential expression is outlined and tested. At the heart of the method lies an estimate of the false negative and false positive rates. Both investing in false positives and missing true positives lead to a waste of resources. The procedure sets out to minimise these errors. For calculation of the false positive and negative rates a simulation procedure is invoked.


The method outperforms commonly used alternatives when applied to simulated data modelled after real cDNA array data as well as when applied to real oligonucleotide array data. In both cases the method comes out as the over-all winner. The simulated data are analysed both exponentiated and on the original scale, thus providing evidence of the ability to cope with normal and lognormal distributions. In the case of the real life data it is shown that the proposed method will tend to push the differentially expressed genes higher up on a test statistic based ranking list than the competitors.


The approach of making use of information concerning both the false positive and false negative rates in the inference adds a useful tool to the toolbox available to scientists in functional genomics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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