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Sci China Life Sci. 2014 Nov;57(11):1090-102. doi: 10.1007/s11427-014-4762-7. Epub 2014 Oct 18.

Algorithms for network-based identification of differential regulators from transcriptome data: a systematic evaluation.

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Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, 37232, USA.


Identification of differential regulators is critical to understand the dynamics of cellular systems and molecular mechanisms of diseases. Several computational algorithms have recently been developed for this purpose by using transcriptome and network data. However, it remains largely unclear which algorithm performs better under a specific condition. Such knowledge is important for both appropriate application and future enhancement of these algorithms. Here, we systematically evaluated seven main algorithms (TED, TDD, TFactS, RIF1, RIF2, dCSA_t2t, and dCSA_r2t), using both simulated and real datasets. In our simulation evaluation, we artificially inactivated either a single regulator or multiple regulators and examined how well each algorithm detected known gold standard regulators. We found that all these algorithms could effectively discern signals arising from regulatory network differences, indicating the validity of our simulation schema. Among the seven tested algorithms, TED and TFactS were placed first and second when both discrimination accuracy and robustness against data variation were considered. When applied to two independent lung cancer datasets, both TED and TFactS replicated a substantial fraction of their respective differential regulators. Since TED and TFactS rely on two distinct features of transcriptome data, namely differential co-expression and differential expression, both may be applied as mutual references during practical application.

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