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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Dec 19;103(51):19430-5. Epub 2006 Dec 4.

Multivariate regression analysis of distance matrices for testing associations between gene expression patterns and related variables.

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Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Polymorphism Research Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Moores UCSD Cancer Center, Center for Human Genetics and Genomics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


A fundamental step in the analysis of gene expression and other high-dimensional genomic data is the calculation of the similarity or distance between pairs of individual samples in a study. If one has collected N total samples and assayed the expression level of G genes on those samples, then an N x N similarity matrix can be formed that reflects the correlation or similarity of the samples with respect to the expression values over the G genes. This matrix can then be examined for patterns via standard data reduction and cluster analysis techniques. We consider an alternative to conventional data reduction and cluster analyses of similarity matrices that is rooted in traditional linear models. This analysis method allows predictor variables collected on the samples to be related to variation in the pairwise similarity/distance values reflected in the matrix. The proposed multivariate method avoids the need for reducing the dimensions of a similarity matrix, can be used to assess relationships between the genes used to construct the matrix and additional information collected on the samples under study, and can be used to analyze individual genes or groups of genes identified in different ways. The technique can be used with any high-dimensional assay or data type and is ideally suited for testing subsets of genes defined by their participation in a biochemical pathway or other a priori grouping. We showcase the methodology using three published gene expression data sets.

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