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Bioinform Biol Insights. 2008 May 1;2:215-37.

Evaluation of combining several statistical methods with a flexible cutoff for identifying differentially expressed genes in pairwise comparison of EST sets.

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School of Humanities and Informatics, University of Skövde, Box 408, 541 28 Skövde, Sweden.


The detection of differentially expressed genes from EST data is of importance for the discovery of potential biological or pharmaceutical targets, especially when studying biological processes in less characterized organisms and where large-scale microarrays are not an option. We present a comparison of five different statistical methods for identifying up-regulated genes through pairwise comparison of EST sets, where one of the sets is generated from a treatment and the other one serves as a control. In addition, we specifically address situations where the sets are relatively small (micro 2,000-10,000 ESTs) and may differ in size. The methods were tested on both simulated and experimentally derived data, and compared to a collection of cold stress induced genes identified by microarrays. We found that combining the method proposed by Audic and Claverie with Fisher's exact test and a method based on calculating the difference in relative frequency was the best combination for maximizing the detection of up-regulated genes. We also introduced the use of a flexible cutoff, which takes the size of the EST sets into consideration. This could be considered as an alternative to a static cutoff. Finally, the detected genes showed a low overlap with those identified by microarrays, which indicates, as in previous studies, low overall concordance between the two platforms.


differentially expressed genes; expressed sequence tags; statistical methods


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