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1.  Missing value imputation in high-dimensional phenomic data: imputable or not, and how? 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(1):346.
Background
In modern biomedical research of complex diseases, a large number of demographic and clinical variables, herein called phenomic data, are often collected and missing values (MVs) are inevitable in the data collection process. Since many downstream statistical and bioinformatics methods require complete data matrix, imputation is a common and practical solution. In high-throughput experiments such as microarray experiments, continuous intensities are measured and many mature missing value imputation methods have been developed and widely applied. Numerous methods for missing data imputation of microarray data have been developed. Large phenomic data, however, contain continuous, nominal, binary and ordinal data types, which void application of most methods. Though several methods have been developed in the past few years, not a single complete guideline is proposed with respect to phenomic missing data imputation.
Results
In this paper, we investigated existing imputation methods for phenomic data, proposed a self-training selection (STS) scheme to select the best imputation method and provide a practical guideline for general applications. We introduced a novel concept of “imputability measure” (IM) to identify missing values that are fundamentally inadequate to impute. In addition, we also developed four variations of K-nearest-neighbor (KNN) methods and compared with two existing methods, multivariate imputation by chained equations (MICE) and missForest. The four variations are imputation by variables (KNN-V), by subjects (KNN-S), their weighted hybrid (KNN-H) and an adaptively weighted hybrid (KNN-A). We performed simulations and applied different imputation methods and the STS scheme to three lung disease phenomic datasets to evaluate the methods. An R package “phenomeImpute” is made publicly available.
Conclusions
Simulations and applications to real datasets showed that MICE often did not perform well; KNN-A, KNN-H and random forest were among the top performers although no method universally performed the best. Imputation of missing values with low imputability measures increased imputation errors greatly and could potentially deteriorate downstream analyses. The STS scheme was accurate in selecting the optimal method by evaluating methods in a second layer of missingness simulation. All source files for the simulation and the real data analyses are available on the author’s publication website.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12859-014-0346-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12859-014-0346-6
PMCID: PMC4228077  PMID: 25371041
Missing data; K-nearest-neighbor; Phenomic data; Self-training selection
2.  A novel mesh processing based technique for 3D plant analysis 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:63.
Background
In recent years, imaging based, automated, non-invasive, and non-destructive high-throughput plant phenotyping platforms have become popular tools for plant biology, underpinning the field of plant phenomics. Such platforms acquire and record large amounts of raw data that must be accurately and robustly calibrated, reconstructed, and analysed, requiring the development of sophisticated image understanding and quantification algorithms. The raw data can be processed in different ways, and the past few years have seen the emergence of two main approaches: 2D image processing and 3D mesh processing algorithms. Direct image quantification methods (usually 2D) dominate the current literature due to comparative simplicity. However, 3D mesh analysis provides the tremendous potential to accurately estimate specific morphological features cross-sectionally and monitor them over-time.
Result
In this paper, we present a novel 3D mesh based technique developed for temporal high-throughput plant phenomics and perform initial tests for the analysis of Gossypium hirsutum vegetative growth. Based on plant meshes previously reconstructed from multi-view images, the methodology involves several stages, including morphological mesh segmentation, phenotypic parameters estimation, and plant organs tracking over time. The initial study focuses on presenting and validating the accuracy of the methodology on dicotyledons such as cotton but we believe the approach will be more broadly applicable. This study involved applying our technique to a set of six Gossypium hirsutum (cotton) plants studied over four time-points. Manual measurements, performed for each plant at every time-point, were used to assess the accuracy of our pipeline and quantify the error on the morphological parameters estimated.
Conclusion
By directly comparing our automated mesh based quantitative data with manual measurements of individual stem height, leaf width and leaf length, we obtained the mean absolute errors of 9.34%, 5.75%, 8.78%, and correlation coefficients 0.88, 0.96, and 0.95 respectively. The temporal matching of leaves was accurate in 95% of the cases and the average execution time required to analyse a plant over four time-points was 4.9 minutes. The mesh processing based methodology is thus considered suitable for quantitative 4D monitoring of plant phenotypic features.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-63
PMCID: PMC3464618  PMID: 22553969
3.  POEAS: Automated Plant Phenomic Analysis Using Plant Ontology 
Biological enrichment analysis using gene ontology (GO) provides a global overview of the functional role of genes or proteins identified from large-scale genomic or proteomic experiments. Phenomic enrichment analysis of gene lists can provide an important layer of information as well as cellular components, molecular functions, and biological processes associated with gene lists. Plant phenomic enrichment analysis will be useful for performing new experiments to better understand plant systems and for the interpretation of gene or proteins identified from high-throughput experiments. Plant ontology (PO) is a compendium of terms to define the diverse phenotypic characteristics of plant species, including plant anatomy, morphology, and development stages. Adoption of this highly useful ontology is limited, when compared to GO, because of the lack of user-friendly tools that enable the use of PO for statistical enrichment analysis. To address this challenge, we introduce Plant Ontology Enrichment Analysis Server (POEAS) in the public domain. POEAS uses a simple list of genes as input data and performs enrichment analysis using Ontologizer 2.0 to provide results in two levels, enrichment results and visualization utilities, to generate ontological graphs that are of publication quality. POEAS also offers interactive options to identify user-defined background population sets, various multiple-testing correction methods, different enrichment calculation methods, and resampling tests to improve statistical significance. The availability of such a tool to perform phenomic enrichment analyses using plant genes as a complementary resource will permit the adoption of PO-based phenomic analysis as part of analytical workflows. POEAS can be accessed using the URL http://caps.ncbs.res.in/poeas.
doi:10.4137/BBI.S19057
PMCID: PMC4274039  PMID: 25574136
phenomics; plant ontology; phenotype enrichment; plant genomics; Arabidopsis thaliana
4.  Improving Disease Gene Prioritization by Comparing the Semantic Similarity of Phenotypes in Mice with Those of Human Diseases 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38937.
Despite considerable progress in understanding the molecular origins of hereditary human diseases, the molecular basis of several thousand genetic diseases still remains unknown. High-throughput phenotype studies are underway to systematically assess the phenotype outcome of targeted mutations in model organisms. Thus, comparing the similarity between experimentally identified phenotypes and the phenotypes associated with human diseases can be used to suggest causal genes underlying a disease. In this manuscript, we present a method for disease gene prioritization based on comparing phenotypes of mouse models with those of human diseases. For this purpose, either human disease phenotypes are “translated” into a mouse-based representation (using the Mammalian Phenotype Ontology), or mouse phenotypes are “translated” into a human-based representation (using the Human Phenotype Ontology). We apply a measure of semantic similarity and rank experimentally identified phenotypes in mice with respect to their phenotypic similarity to human diseases. Our method is evaluated on manually curated and experimentally verified gene–disease associations for human and for mouse. We evaluate our approach using a Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis and obtain an area under the ROC curve of up to . Furthermore, we are able to confirm previous results that the Vax1 gene is involved in Septo-Optic Dysplasia and suggest Gdf6 and Marcks as further potential candidates. Our method significantly outperforms previous phenotype-based approaches of prioritizing gene–disease associations. To enable the adaption of our method to the analysis of other phenotype data, our software and prioritization results are freely available under a BSD licence at http://code.google.com/p/phenomeblast/wiki/CAMP. Furthermore, our method has been integrated in PhenomeNET and the results can be explored using the PhenomeBrowser at http://phenomebrowser.net.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038937
PMCID: PMC3375301  PMID: 22719993
5.  EuroPhenome: a repository for high-throughput mouse phenotyping data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D577-D585.
The broad aim of biomedical science in the postgenomic era is to link genomic and phenotype information to allow deeper understanding of the processes leading from genomic changes to altered phenotype and disease. The EuroPhenome project (http://www.EuroPhenome.org) is a comprehensive resource for raw and annotated high-throughput phenotyping data arising from projects such as EUMODIC. EUMODIC is gathering data from the EMPReSSslim pipeline (http://www.empress.har.mrc.ac.uk/) which is performed on inbred mouse strains and knock-out lines arising from the EUCOMM project. The EuroPhenome interface allows the user to access the data via the phenotype or genotype. It also allows the user to access the data in a variety of ways, including graphical display, statistical analysis and access to the raw data via web services. The raw phenotyping data captured in EuroPhenome is annotated by an annotation pipeline which automatically identifies statistically different mutants from the appropriate baseline and assigns ontology terms for that specific test. Mutant phenotypes can be quickly identified using two EuroPhenome tools: PhenoMap, a graphical representation of statistically relevant phenotypes, and mining for a mutant using ontology terms. To assist with data definition and cross-database comparisons, phenotype data is annotated using combinations of terms from biological ontologies.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkp1007
PMCID: PMC2808931  PMID: 19933761
6.  An Integrative Genomic Approach to Uncover Molecular Mechanisms of Prokaryotic Traits 
PLoS Computational Biology  2006;2(11):e159.
With mounting availability of genomic and phenotypic databases, data integration and mining become increasingly challenging. While efforts have been put forward to analyze prokaryotic phenotypes, current computational technologies either lack high throughput capacity for genomic scale analysis, or are limited in their capability to integrate and mine data across different scales of biology. Consequently, simultaneous analysis of associations among genomes, phenotypes, and gene functions is prohibited. Here, we developed a high throughput computational approach, and demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of integrating large quantities of prokaryotic phenotypes along with genomic datasets for mining across multiple scales of biology (protein domains, pathways, molecular functions, and cellular processes). Applying this method over 59 fully sequenced prokaryotic species, we identified genetic basis and molecular mechanisms underlying the phenotypes in bacteria. We identified 3,711 significant correlations between 1,499 distinct Pfam and 63 phenotypes, with 2,650 correlations and 1,061 anti-correlations. Manual evaluation of a random sample of these significant correlations showed a minimal precision of 30% (95% confidence interval: 20%–42%; n = 50). We stratified the most significant 478 predictions and subjected 100 to manual evaluation, of which 60 were corroborated in the literature. We furthermore unveiled 10 significant correlations between phenotypes and KEGG pathways, eight of which were corroborated in the evaluation, and 309 significant correlations between phenotypes and 166 GO concepts evaluated using a random sample (minimal precision = 72%; 95% confidence interval: 60%–80%; n = 50). Additionally, we conducted a novel large-scale phenomic visualization analysis to provide insight into the modular nature of common molecular mechanisms spanning multiple biological scales and reused by related phenotypes (metaphenotypes). We propose that this method elucidates which classes of molecular mechanisms are associated with phenotypes or metaphenotypes and holds promise in facilitating a computable systems biology approach to genomic and biomedical research.
Synopsis
A key challenge of the post-genomic era is to conceive large-scale studies of genomes and observable characteristics of organisms (phenotypes) and to interpret the data thus produced. The goal of this “phenomic” study is to improve our understanding of complex biological systems in terms of their molecular underpinnings. In this paper, Liu and colleagues present comprehensive computational and novel visualization methods for discovering biological knowledge spanning multiple scales of biology. The authors were able to predict and visualize new knowledge between clusters of microbiological phenotypes and their molecular mechanisms. To their knowledge, this is the first time this has been done. More specifically, the method integrates microbiological data with genomic-scale data from protein family databases, gene ontology, and biological pathways. Conducted over 59 fully sequenced bacteria, and including significantly more phenotypes than previous studies of its kind, this study enables a “systems biology” view across different classifications of genes and processes. This represents advancement over previous techniques, which are either limited in biological scale or analytical breadth. Visualization of the networks generated by this technique shows the common biological modules shared by related phenotypes. The results of this experiment demonstrate that the fusion of clinical data with genomic information is able to elucidate, in high throughput, a massive number of biological processes underlying phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0020159
PMCID: PMC1636675  PMID: 17112314
7.  Phenomics: The systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale 
Neuroscience  2009;164(1):30-42.
Phenomics is an emerging transdiscipline dedicated to the systematic study of phenotypes on a genome-wide scale. New methods for high-throughput genotyping have changed the priority for biomedical research to phenotyping, but the human phenome is vast and its dimensionality remains unknown. Phenomics research strategies capable of linking genetic variation to public health concerns need to prioritize development of mechanistic frameworks that relate neural systems functioning to human behavior. New approaches to phenotype definition will benefit from crossing neuropsychiatric syndromal boundaries, and defining phenotypic features across multiple levels of expression from proteome to syndrome. The demand for high throughput phenotyping may stimulate a migration from conventional laboratory to web-based assessment of behavior, and this offers the promise of dynamic phenotyping –the iterative refinement of phenotype assays based on prior genotype-phenotype associations. Phenotypes that can be studied across species may provide greatest traction, particularly given rapid development in transgenic modeling. Phenomics research demands vertically integrated research teams, novel analytic strategies and informatics infrastructure to help manage complexity. The Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics at UCLA has been supported by the NIH Roadmap Initiative to illustrate these principles, and is developing applications that may help investigators assemble, visualize, and ultimately test multi-level phenomics hypotheses. As the transdiscipline of phenomics matures, and work is extended to large-scale international collaborations, there is promise that systematic new knowledgebases will help fulfill the promise of personalized medicine and the rational diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric syndromes.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.01.027
PMCID: PMC2760679  PMID: 19344640
phenotype; genetics; genomics; informatics; cognition; psychiatry
8.  Gene set enrichment analysis for non-monotone association and multiple experimental categories 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:481.
Background
Recently, microarray data analyses using functional pathway information, e.g., gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) and significance analysis of function and expression (SAFE), have gained recognition as a way to identify biological pathways/processes associated with a phenotypic endpoint. In these analyses, a local statistic is used to assess the association between the expression level of a gene and the value of a phenotypic endpoint. Then these gene-specific local statistics are combined to evaluate association for pre-selected sets of genes. Commonly used local statistics include t-statistics for binary phenotypes and correlation coefficients that assume a linear or monotone relationship between a continuous phenotype and gene expression level. Methods applicable to continuous non-monotone relationships are needed. Furthermore, for multiple experimental categories, methods that combine multiple GSEA/SAFE analyses are needed.
Results
For continuous or ordinal phenotypic outcome, we propose to use as the local statistic the coefficient of multiple determination (i.e., the square of multiple correlation coefficient) R2 from fitting natural cubic spline models to the phenotype-expression relationship. Next, we incorporate this association measure into the GSEA/SAFE framework to identify significant gene sets. Unsigned local statistics, signed global statistics and one-sided p-values are used to reflect our inferential interest. Furthermore, we describe a procedure for inference across multiple GSEA/SAFE analyses. We illustrate our approach using gene expression and liver injury data from liver and blood samples from rats treated with eight hepatotoxicants under multiple time and dose combinations. We set out to identify biological pathways/processes associated with liver injury as manifested by increased blood levels of alanine transaminase in common for most of the eight compounds. Potential statistical dependency resulting from the experimental design is addressed in permutation based hypothesis testing.
Conclusion
The proposed framework captures both linear and non-linear association between gene expression level and a phenotypic endpoint and thus can be viewed as extending the current GSEA/SAFE methodology. The framework for combining results from multiple GSEA/SAFE analyses is flexible to address practical inference interests. Our methods can be applied to microarray data with continuous phenotypes with multi-level design or the meta-analysis of multiple microarray data sets.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-481
PMCID: PMC2636811  PMID: 19014579
9.  MAID : An effect size based model for microarray data integration across laboratories and platforms 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:305.
Background
Gene expression profiling has the potential to unravel molecular mechanisms behind gene regulation and identify gene targets for therapeutic interventions. As microarray technology matures, the number of microarray studies has increased, resulting in many different datasets available for any given disease. The increase in sensitivity and reliability of measurements of gene expression changes can be improved through a systematic integration of different microarray datasets that address the same or similar biological questions.
Results
Traditional effect size models can not be used to integrate array data that directly compare treatment to control samples expressed as log ratios of gene expressions. Here we extend the traditional effect size model to integrate as many array datasets as possible. The extended effect size model (MAID) can integrate any array datatype generated with either single or two channel arrays using either direct or indirect designs across different laboratories and platforms. The model uses two standardized indices, the standard effect size score for experiments with two groups of data, and a new standardized index that measures the difference in gene expression between treatment and control groups for one sample data with replicate arrays. The statistical significance of treatment effect across studies for each gene is determined by appropriate permutation methods depending on the type of data integrated. We apply our method to three different expression datasets from two different laboratories generated using three different array platforms and two different experimental designs. Our results indicate that the proposed integration model produces an increase in statistical power for identifying differentially expressed genes when integrating data across experiments and when compared to other integration models. We also show that genes found to be significant using our data integration method are of direct biological relevance to the three experiments integrated.
Conclusion
High-throughput genomics data provide a rich and complex source of information that could play a key role in deciphering intricate molecular networks behind disease. Here we propose an extension of the traditional effect size model to allow the integration of as many array experiments as possible with the aim of increasing the statistical power for identifying differentially expressed genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-305
PMCID: PMC2483727  PMID: 18616827
10.  A yeast phenomic model for the gene interaction network modulating CFTR-ΔF508 protein biogenesis 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(12):103.
Background
The overall influence of gene interaction in human disease is unknown. In cystic fibrosis (CF) a single allele of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR-ΔF508) accounts for most of the disease. In cell models, CFTR-ΔF508 exhibits defective protein biogenesis and degradation rather than proper trafficking to the plasma membrane where CFTR normally functions. Numerous genes function in the biogenesis of CFTR and influence the fate of CFTR-ΔF508. However it is not known whether genetic variation in such genes contributes to disease severity in patients. Nor is there an easy way to study how numerous gene interactions involving CFTR-ΔF would manifest phenotypically.
Methods
To gain insight into the function and evolutionary conservation of a gene interaction network that regulates biogenesis of a misfolded ABC transporter, we employed yeast genetics to develop a 'phenomic' model, in which the CFTR-ΔF508-equivalent residue of a yeast homolog is mutated (Yor1-ΔF670), and where the genome is scanned quantitatively for interaction. We first confirmed that Yor1-ΔF undergoes protein misfolding and has reduced half-life, analogous to CFTR-ΔF. Gene interaction was then assessed quantitatively by growth curves for approximately 5,000 double mutants, based on alteration in the dose response to growth inhibition by oligomycin, a toxin extruded from the cell at the plasma membrane by Yor1.
Results
From a comparative genomic perspective, yeast gene interactions influencing Yor1-ΔF biogenesis were representative of human homologs previously found to modulate processing of CFTR-ΔF in mammalian cells. Additional evolutionarily conserved pathways were implicated by the study, and a ΔF-specific pro-biogenesis function of the recently discovered ER membrane complex (EMC) was evident from the yeast screen. This novel function was validated biochemically by siRNA of an EMC ortholog in a human cell line expressing CFTR-ΔF508. The precision and accuracy of quantitative high throughput cell array phenotyping (Q-HTCP), which captures tens of thousands of growth curves simultaneously, provided powerful resolution to measure gene interaction on a phenomic scale, based on discrete cell proliferation parameters.
Conclusion
We propose phenomic analysis of Yor1-ΔF as a model for investigating gene interaction networks that can modulate cystic fibrosis disease severity. Although the clinical relevance of the Yor1-ΔF gene interaction network for cystic fibrosis remains to be defined, the model appears to be informative with respect to human cell models of CFTR-ΔF. Moreover, the general strategy of yeast phenomics can be employed in a systematic manner to model gene interaction for other diseases relating to pathologies that result from protein misfolding or potentially any disease involving evolutionarily conserved genetic pathways.
doi:10.1186/gm404
PMCID: PMC3906889  PMID: 23270647
Gene interaction; Genetic buffering; Genotype-phenotype complexity; Phenomics; Quantitative high throughput cell array phenotyping (Q-HTCP); Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR); ER membrane complex (EMC); ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter; Membrane protein biogenesis; Yeast model of human disease; Comparative functional genomics
11.  Phenome-Wide Association Studies on a Quantitative Trait: Application to TPMT Enzyme Activity and Thiopurine Therapy in Pharmacogenomics 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(12):e1003405.
Phenome-Wide Association Studies (PheWAS) investigate whether genetic polymorphisms associated with a phenotype are also associated with other diagnoses. In this study, we have developed new methods to perform a PheWAS based on ICD-10 codes and biological test results, and to use a quantitative trait as the selection criterion. We tested our approach on thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) activity in patients treated by thiopurine drugs. We developed 2 aggregation methods for the ICD-10 codes: an ICD-10 hierarchy and a mapping to existing ICD-9-CM based PheWAS codes. Eleven biological test results were also analyzed using discretization algorithms. We applied these methods in patients having a TPMT activity assessment from the clinical data warehouse of a French academic hospital between January 2000 and July 2013. Data after initiation of thiopurine treatment were analyzed and patient groups were compared according to their TPMT activity level. A total of 442 patient records were analyzed representing 10,252 ICD-10 codes and 72,711 biological test results. The results from the ICD-9-CM based PheWAS codes and ICD-10 hierarchy codes were concordant. Cross-validation with the biological test results allowed us to validate the ICD phenotypes. Iron-deficiency anemia and diabetes mellitus were associated with a very high TPMT activity (p = 0.0004 and p = 0.0015, respectively). We describe here an original method to perform PheWAS on a quantitative trait using both ICD-10 diagnosis codes and biological test results to identify associated phenotypes. In the field of pharmacogenomics, PheWAS allow for the identification of new subgroups of patients who require personalized clinical and therapeutic management.
Author Summary
The use of underlying molecular mechanisms and other factors to describe and classify diseases is a major challenge for future treatment strategies. New methods are needed to achieve this goal. The phenome wide association study (PheWAS) methodology was initially developed to unveil unknown associations between a specific genetic status and phenotypic features (e.g. diagnoses from electronic health records). We initially propose to extend this method to assessment of the relationships between the levels of a quantitative trait and diagnosis codes. We also assess the relationships between this quantitative trait and the biological test results. We tested this method using the levels of enzymatic activity of thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) that is involved in the metabolism of thiopurine drugs used in inflammatory bowel diseases for example. We discovered an association between a very high TPMT activity and nutritional anemia and diabetes. These results could be used to describe a new subgroup of patients in order to optimize drug treatments.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003405
PMCID: PMC3873228  PMID: 24385893
12.  PhenoM: a database of morphological phenotypes caused by mutation of essential genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D687-D694.
About one-fifth of the genes in the budding yeast are essential for haploid viability and cannot be functionally assessed using standard genetic approaches such as gene deletion. To facilitate genetic analysis of essential genes, we and others have assembled collections of yeast strains expressing temperature-sensitive (ts) alleles of essential genes. To explore the phenotypes caused by essential gene mutation we used a panel of genetically engineered fluorescent markers to explore the morphology of cells in the ts strain collection using high-throughput microscopy. Here, we describe the design and implementation of an online database, PhenoM (Phenomics of yeast Mutants), for storing, retrieving, visualizing and data mining the quantitative single-cell measurements extracted from micrographs of the ts mutant cells. PhenoM allows users to rapidly search and retrieve raw images and their quantified morphological data for genes of interest. The database also provides several data-mining tools, including a PhenoBlast module for phenotypic comparison between mutant strains and a Gene Ontology module for functional enrichment analysis of gene sets showing similar morphological alterations. The current PhenoM version 1.0 contains 78 194 morphological images and 1 909 914 cells covering six subcellular compartments or structures for 775 ts alleles spanning 491 essential genes. PhenoM is freely available at http://phenom.ccbr.utoronto.ca/.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr827
PMCID: PMC3245137  PMID: 22009677
13.  Prediction of Human Disease Genes by Human-Mouse Conserved Coexpression Analysis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2008;4(3):e1000043.
Background
Even in the post-genomic era, the identification of candidate genes within loci associated with human genetic diseases is a very demanding task, because the critical region may typically contain hundreds of positional candidates. Since genes implicated in similar phenotypes tend to share very similar expression profiles, high throughput gene expression data may represent a very important resource to identify the best candidates for sequencing. However, so far, gene coexpression has not been used very successfully to prioritize positional candidates.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We show that it is possible to reliably identify disease-relevant relationships among genes from massive microarray datasets by concentrating only on genes sharing similar expression profiles in both human and mouse. Moreover, we show systematically that the integration of human-mouse conserved coexpression with a phenotype similarity map allows the efficient identification of disease genes in large genomic regions. Finally, using this approach on 850 OMIM loci characterized by an unknown molecular basis, we propose high-probability candidates for 81 genetic diseases.
Conclusion
Our results demonstrate that conserved coexpression, even at the human-mouse phylogenetic distance, represents a very strong criterion to predict disease-relevant relationships among human genes.
Author Summary
One of the most limiting aspects of biological research in the post-genomic era is the capability to integrate massive datasets on gene structure and function for producing useful biological knowledge. In this report we have applied an integrative approach to address the problem of identifying likely candidate genes within loci associated with human genetic diseases. Despite the recent progress in sequencing technologies, approaching this problem from an experimental perspective still represents a very demanding task, because the critical region may typically contain hundreds of positional candidates. We found that by concentrating only on genes sharing similar expression profiles in both human and mouse, massive microarray datasets can be used to reliably identify disease-relevant relationships among genes. Moreover, we found that integrating the coexpression criterion with systematic phenome analysis allows efficient identification of disease genes in large genomic regions. Using this approach on 850 OMIM loci characterized by unknown molecular basis, we propose high-probability candidates for 81 genetic diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000043
PMCID: PMC2268251  PMID: 18369433
14.  Rapid and Accurate Multiple Testing Correction and Power Estimation for Millions of Correlated Markers 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(4):e1000456.
With the development of high-throughput sequencing and genotyping technologies, the number of markers collected in genetic association studies is growing rapidly, increasing the importance of methods for correcting for multiple hypothesis testing. The permutation test is widely considered the gold standard for accurate multiple testing correction, but it is often computationally impractical for these large datasets. Recently, several studies proposed efficient alternative approaches to the permutation test based on the multivariate normal distribution (MVN). However, they cannot accurately correct for multiple testing in genome-wide association studies for two reasons. First, these methods require partitioning of the genome into many disjoint blocks and ignore all correlations between markers from different blocks. Second, the true null distribution of the test statistic often fails to follow the asymptotic distribution at the tails of the distribution. We propose an accurate and efficient method for multiple testing correction in genome-wide association studies—SLIDE. Our method accounts for all correlation within a sliding window and corrects for the departure of the true null distribution of the statistic from the asymptotic distribution. In simulations using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium data, the error rate of SLIDE's corrected p-values is more than 20 times smaller than the error rate of the previous MVN-based methods' corrected p-values, while SLIDE is orders of magnitude faster than the permutation test and other competing methods. We also extend the MVN framework to the problem of estimating the statistical power of an association study with correlated markers and propose an efficient and accurate power estimation method SLIP. SLIP and SLIDE are available at http://slide.cs.ucla.edu.
Author Summary
In genome-wide association studies, it is important to account for the fact that a large number of genetic variants are tested in order to adequately control for false positives. The simplest way to correct for multiple hypothesis testing is the Bonferroni correction, which multiplies the p-values by the number of markers assuming the markers are independent. Since the markers are correlated due to linkage disequilibrium, this approach leads to a conservative estimate of false positives, thus adversely affecting statistical power. The permutation test is considered the gold standard for accurate multiple testing correction, but is often computationally impractical for large association studies. We propose a method that efficiently and accurately corrects for multiple hypotheses in genome-wide association studies by fully accounting for the local correlation structure between markers. Our method also corrects for the departure of the true distribution of test statistics from the asymptotic distribution, which dramatically improves the accuracy, particularly when many rare variants are included in the tests. Our method shows a near identical accuracy to permutation and shows greater computational efficiency than previously suggested methods. We also provide a method to accurately and efficiently estimate the statistical power of genome-wide association studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000456
PMCID: PMC2663787  PMID: 19381255
15.  Relational Machine Learning for Electronic Health Record-Driven Phenotyping 
Objective
Electronic health records (EHR) offer medical and pharmacogenomics research unprecedented opportunities to identify and classify patients at risk. EHRs are collections of highly inter-dependent records that include biological, anatomical, physiological, and behavioral observations. They comprise a patient’s clinical phenome, where each patient has thousands of date-stamped records distributed across many relational tables. Development of EHR computer-based phenotyping algorithms require time and medical insight from clinical experts, who most often can only review a small patient subset representative of the total EHR records, to identify phenotype features. In this research we evaluate whether relational machine learning (ML) using Inductive Logic Programming (ILP) can contribute to addressing these issues as a viable approach for EHR-based phenotyping.
Methods
Two relational learning ILP approaches and three well-known WEKA (Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis) implementations of non-relational approaches (PART, J48, and JRIP) were used to develop models for nine phenotypes. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) coded EHR data were used to select training cohorts for the development of each phenotypic model. Accuracy, precision, recall, F-Measure, and Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (AUROC) curve statistics were measured for each phenotypic model based on independent manually verified test cohorts. A two-sided binomial distribution test (sign test) compared the five ML approaches across phenotypes for statistical significance.
Results
We developed an approach to automatically label training examples using ICD-9 diagnosis codes for the ML approaches being evaluated. Nine phenotypic models for each MLapproach were evaluated, resulting in better overall model performance in AUROC using ILP when compared to PART (p=0.039), J48 (p=0.003) and JRIP (p=0.003).
Discussion
ILP has the potential to improve phenotyping by independently delivering clinically expert interpretable rules for phenotype definitions, or intuitive phenotypes to assist experts.
Conclusion
Relational learning using ILP offers a viable approach to EHR-driven phenotyping.
doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2014.07.007
PMCID: PMC4261015  PMID: 25048351
Machine learning; Electronic health record; Inductive logic programming; Phenotyping; Relational learning
16.  Ranking analysis of F-statistics for microarray data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:142.
Background
Microarray technology provides an efficient means for globally exploring physiological processes governed by the coordinated expression of multiple genes. However, identification of genes differentially expressed in microarray experiments is challenging because of their potentially high type I error rate. Methods for large-scale statistical analyses have been developed but most of them are applicable to two-sample or two-condition data.
Results
We developed a large-scale multiple-group F-test based method, named ranking analysis of F-statistics (RAF), which is an extension of ranking analysis of microarray data (RAM) for two-sample t-test. In this method, we proposed a novel random splitting approach to generate the null distribution instead of using permutation, which may not be appropriate for microarray data. We also implemented a two-simulation strategy to estimate the false discovery rate. Simulation results suggested that it has higher efficiency in finding differentially expressed genes among multiple classes at a lower false discovery rate than some commonly used methods. By applying our method to the experimental data, we found 107 genes having significantly differential expressions among 4 treatments at <0.7% FDR, of which 31 belong to the expressed sequence tags (ESTs), 76 are unique genes who have known functions in the brain or central nervous system and belong to six major functional groups.
Conclusion
Our method is suitable to identify differentially expressed genes among multiple groups, in particular, when sample size is small.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-142
PMCID: PMC2323973  PMID: 18325100
17.  Adaptive Elastic-Net Sparse Principal Component Analysis for Pathway Association Testing 
Pathway or gene set analysis has become an increasingly popular approach for analyzing high-throughput biological experiments such as microarray gene expression studies. The purpose of pathway analysis is to identify differentially expressed pathways associated with outcomes. Important challenges in pathway analysis are selecting a subset of genes contributing most to association with clinical phenotypes and conducting statistical tests of association for the pathways efficiently. We propose a two-stage analysis strategy: (1) extract latent variables representing activities within each pathway using a dimension reduction approach based on adaptive elastic-net sparse principal component analysis; (2) integrate the latent variables with the regression modeling framework to analyze studies with different types of outcomes such as binary, continuous or survival outcomes. Our proposed approach is computationally efficient. For each pathway, because the latent variables are estimated in an unsupervised fashion without using disease outcome information, in the sample label permutation testing procedure, the latent variables only need to be calculated once rather than for each permutation resample. Using both simulated and real datasets, we show our approach performed favorably when compared with five other currently available pathway testing methods.
doi:10.2202/1544-6115.1697
PMCID: PMC3215429  PMID: 23089825
gene expression; microarray; pathway analysis; sparse principal component analysis
18.  PhenomeNET: a whole-phenome approach to disease gene discovery 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(18):e119.
Phenotypes are investigated in model organisms to understand and reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying disease. Phenotype ontologies were developed to capture and compare phenotypes within the context of a single species. Recently, these ontologies were augmented with formal class definitions that may be utilized to integrate phenotypic data and enable the direct comparison of phenotypes between different species. We have developed a method to transform phenotype ontologies into a formal representation, combine phenotype ontologies with anatomy ontologies, and apply a measure of semantic similarity to construct the PhenomeNET cross-species phenotype network. We demonstrate that PhenomeNET can identify orthologous genes, genes involved in the same pathway and gene–disease associations through the comparison of mutant phenotypes. We provide evidence that the Adam19 and Fgf15 genes in mice are involved in the tetralogy of Fallot, and, using zebrafish phenotypes, propose the hypothesis that the mammalian homologs of Cx36.7 and Nkx2.5 lie in a pathway controlling cardiac morphogenesis and electrical conductivity which, when defective, cause the tetralogy of Fallot phenotype. Our method implements a whole-phenome approach toward disease gene discovery and can be applied to prioritize genes for rare and orphan diseases for which the molecular basis is unknown.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr538
PMCID: PMC3185433  PMID: 21737429
19.  Phenome-Wide Association Study (PheWAS) for Detection of Pleiotropy within the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) Network 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003087.
Using a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) approach, we comprehensively tested genetic variants for association with phenotypes available for 70,061 study participants in the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) network. Our aim was to better characterize the genetic architecture of complex traits and identify novel pleiotropic relationships. This PheWAS drew on five population-based studies representing four major racial/ethnic groups (European Americans (EA), African Americans (AA), Hispanics/Mexican-Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders) in PAGE, each site with measurements for multiple traits, associated laboratory measures, and intermediate biomarkers. A total of 83 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were genotyped across two or more PAGE study sites. Comprehensive tests of association, stratified by race/ethnicity, were performed, encompassing 4,706 phenotypes mapped to 105 phenotype-classes, and association results were compared across study sites. A total of 111 PheWAS results had significant associations for two or more PAGE study sites with consistent direction of effect with a significance threshold of p<0.01 for the same racial/ethnic group, SNP, and phenotype-class. Among results identified for SNPs previously associated with phenotypes such as lipid traits, type 2 diabetes, and body mass index, 52 replicated previously published genotype–phenotype associations, 26 represented phenotypes closely related to previously known genotype–phenotype associations, and 33 represented potentially novel genotype–phenotype associations with pleiotropic effects. The majority of the potentially novel results were for single PheWAS phenotype-classes, for example, for CDKN2A/B rs1333049 (previously associated with type 2 diabetes in EA) a PheWAS association was identified for hemoglobin levels in AA. Of note, however, GALNT2 rs2144300 (previously associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in EA) had multiple potentially novel PheWAS associations, with hypertension related phenotypes in AA and with serum calcium levels and coronary artery disease phenotypes in EA. PheWAS identifies associations for hypothesis generation and exploration of the genetic architecture of complex traits.
Author Summary
In phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) all potential genetic variants in a dataset are systematically tested for association with all available phenotypes and traits that have been measured in study participants. By investigating the relationship between genetic variation and a diversity of phenotypes, there is the potential for uncovering novel relationships between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), phenotypes, and networks of interrelated phenotypes. PheWAS also can expose pleiotropy, provide novel mechanistic insights, and foster hypothesis generation. This approach is complementary to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that test the association between hundreds of thousands, to over a million, single nucleotide polymorphisms and a single phenotype or limited phenotypic domain. The Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) network has measures for a wide array of phenotypes and traits, including prevalent and incident status for clinical conditions and risk factors, as well as clinical parameters and intermediate biomarkers. We performed tests of association between a series of genome-wide association study (GWAS)–identified SNPs and a comprehensive range of phenotypes from the PAGE network in a high-throughput manner. We replicated a number of previously reported associations, validating the PheWAS approach. We also identified novel genotype–phenotype associations possibly representing pleiotropic effects.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003087
PMCID: PMC3561060  PMID: 23382687
20.  Separate-channel analysis of two-channel microarrays: recovering inter-spot information 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:165.
Background
Two-channel (or two-color) microarrays are cost-effective platforms for comparative analysis of gene expression. They are traditionally analysed in terms of the log-ratios (M-values) of the two channel intensities at each spot, but this analysis does not use all the information available in the separate channel observations. Mixed models have been proposed to analyse intensities from the two channels as separate observations, but such models can be complex to use and the gain in efficiency over the log-ratio analysis is difficult to quantify. Mixed models yield test statistics for the null distributions can be specified only approximately, and some approaches do not borrow strength between genes.
Results
This article reformulates the mixed model to clarify the relationship with the traditional log-ratio analysis, to facilitate information borrowing between genes, and to obtain an exact distributional theory for the resulting test statistics. The mixed model is transformed to operate on the M-values and A-values (average log-expression for each spot) instead of on the log-expression values. The log-ratio analysis is shown to ignore information contained in the A-values. The relative efficiency of the log-ratio analysis is shown to depend on the size of the intraspot correlation. A new separate channel analysis method is proposed that assumes a constant intra-spot correlation coefficient across all genes. This approach permits the mixed model to be transformed into an ordinary linear model, allowing the data analysis to use a well-understood empirical Bayes analysis pipeline for linear modeling of microarray data. This yields statistically powerful test statistics that have an exact distributional theory. The log-ratio, mixed model and common correlation methods are compared using three case studies. The results show that separate channel analyses that borrow strength between genes are more powerful than log-ratio analyses. The common correlation analysis is the most powerful of all.
Conclusions
The common correlation method proposed in this article for separate-channel analysis of two-channel microarray data is no more difficult to apply in practice than the traditional log-ratio analysis. It provides an intuitive and powerful means to conduct analyses and make comparisons that might otherwise not be possible.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-165
PMCID: PMC3673852  PMID: 23705896
Loop design; Unconnected design; Reference design; Intraclass correlation; False discovery rate; Power; Efficiency
21.  Estrogen pathway polymorphisms in relation to primary open angle glaucoma: An analysis accounting for gender from the United States 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:1471-1481.
Purpose
Circulating estrogen levels are relevant in glaucoma phenotypic traits. We assessed the association between an estrogen metabolism single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel in relation to primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), accounting for gender.
Methods
We included 3,108 POAG cases and 3,430 controls of both genders from the Glaucoma Genes and Environment (GLAUGEN) study and the National Eye Institute Glaucoma Human Genetics Collaboration (NEIGHBOR) consortium genotyped on the Illumina 660W-Quad platform. We assessed the relation between the SNP panels representative of estrogen metabolism and POAG using pathway- and gene-based approaches with the Pathway Analysis by Randomization Incorporating Structure (PARIS) software. PARIS executes a permutation algorithm to assess statistical significance relative to the pathways and genes of comparable genetic architecture. These analyses were performed using the meta-analyzed results from the GLAUGEN and NEIGHBOR data sets. We evaluated POAG overall as well as two subtypes of POAG defined as intraocular pressure (IOP) ≥22 mmHg (high-pressure glaucoma [HPG]) or IOP <22 mmHg (normal pressure glaucoma [NPG]) at diagnosis. We conducted these analyses for each gender separately and then jointly in men and women.
Results
Among women, the estrogen SNP pathway was associated with POAG overall (permuted p=0.006) and HPG (permuted p<0.001) but not NPG (permuted p=0.09). Interestingly, there was no relation between the estrogen SNP pathway and POAG when men were considered alone (permuted p>0.99). Among women, gene-based analyses revealed that the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene showed strong associations with HTG (permuted gene p≤0.001) and NPG (permuted gene p=0.01).
Conclusions
The estrogen SNP pathway was associated with POAG among women.
PMCID: PMC3712669  PMID: 23869166
22.  Integrative Genomics: Quantifying Significance of Phenotype-Genotype Relationships from Multiple Sources of High-Throughput Data 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;3:202.
Given recent advances in the generation of high-throughput data such as whole-genome genetic variation and transcriptome expression, it is critical to come up with novel methods to integrate these heterogeneous datasets and to assess the significance of identified phenotype-genotype relationships. Recent studies show that genome-wide association findings are likely to fall in loci with gene regulatory effects such as expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), demonstrating the utility of such integrative approaches. When genotype and gene expression data are available on the same individuals, we and others developed methods wherein top phenotype-associated genetic variants are prioritized if they are associated, as eQTLs, with gene expression traits that are themselves associated with the phenotype. Yet there has been no method to determine an overall p-value for the findings that arise specifically from the integrative nature of the approach. We propose a computationally feasible permutation method that accounts for the assimilative nature of the method and the correlation structure among gene expression traits and among genotypes. We apply the method to data from a study of cellular sensitivity to etoposide, one of the most widely used chemotherapeutic drugs. To our knowledge, this study is the first statistically sound quantification of the overall significance of the genotype-phenotype relationships resulting from applying an integrative approach. This method can be easily extended to cases in which gene expression data are replaced by other molecular phenotypes of interest, e.g., microRNA or proteomic data. This study has important implications for studies seeking to expand on genetic association studies by the use of omics data. Finally, we provide an R code to compute the empirical false discovery rate when p-values for the observed and simulated phenotypes are available.
doi:10.3389/fgene.2012.00202
PMCID: PMC3668276  PMID: 23755062
eQTLs; FDR; gene expression; genomics; GWAS; integrative genomics; permutation; phenotype
23.  Inferring Gene-Phenotype Associations via Global Protein Complex Network Propagation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21502.
Background
Phenotypically similar diseases have been found to be caused by functionally related genes, suggesting a modular organization of the genetic landscape of human diseases that mirrors the modularity observed in biological interaction networks. Protein complexes, as molecular machines that integrate multiple gene products to perform biological functions, express the underlying modular organization of protein-protein interaction networks. As such, protein complexes can be useful for interrogating the networks of phenome and interactome to elucidate gene-phenotype associations of diseases.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We proposed a technique called RWPCN (Random Walker on Protein Complex Network) for predicting and prioritizing disease genes. The basis of RWPCN is a protein complex network constructed using existing human protein complexes and protein interaction network. To prioritize candidate disease genes for the query disease phenotypes, we compute the associations between the protein complexes and the query phenotypes in their respective protein complex and phenotype networks. We tested RWPCN on predicting gene-phenotype associations using leave-one-out cross-validation; our method was observed to outperform existing approaches. We also applied RWPCN to predict novel disease genes for two representative diseases, namely, Breast Cancer and Diabetes.
Conclusions/Significance
Guilt-by-association prediction and prioritization of disease genes can be enhanced by fully exploiting the underlying modular organizations of both the disease phenome and the protein interactome. Our RWPCN uses a novel protein complex network as a basis for interrogating the human phenome-interactome network. As the protein complex network can capture the underlying modularity in the biological interaction networks better than simple protein interaction networks, RWPCN was found to be able to detect and prioritize disease genes better than traditional approaches that used only protein-phenotype associations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021502
PMCID: PMC3143124  PMID: 21799737
24.  Comparative evaluation of gene-set analysis methods 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:431.
Background
Multiple data-analytic methods have been proposed for evaluating gene-expression levels in specific biological pathways, assessing differential expression associated with a binary phenotype. Following Goeman and Bühlmann's recent review, we compared statistical performance of three methods, namely Global Test, ANCOVA Global Test, and SAM-GS, that test "self-contained null hypotheses" Via. subject sampling. The three methods were compared based on a simulation experiment and analyses of three real-world microarray datasets.
Results
In the simulation experiment, we found that the use of the asymptotic distribution in the two Global Tests leads to a statistical test with an incorrect size. Specifically, p-values calculated by the scaled χ2 distribution of Global Test and the asymptotic distribution of ANCOVA Global Test are too liberal, while the asymptotic distribution with a quadratic form of the Global Test results in p-values that are too conservative. The two Global Tests with permutation-based inference, however, gave a correct size. While the three methods showed similar power using permutation inference after a proper standardization of gene expression data, SAM-GS showed slightly higher power than the Global Tests. In the analysis of a real-world microarray dataset, the two Global Tests gave markedly different results, compared to SAM-GS, in identifying pathways whose gene expressions are associated with p53 mutation in cancer cell lines. A proper standardization of gene expression variances is necessary for the two Global Tests in order to produce biologically sensible results. After the standardization, the three methods gave very similar biologically-sensible results, with slightly higher statistical significance given by SAM-GS. The three methods gave similar patterns of results in the analysis of the other two microarray datasets.
Conclusion
An appropriate standardization makes the performance of all three methods similar, given the use of permutation-based inference. SAM-GS tends to have slightly higher power in the lower α-level region (i.e. gene sets that are of the greatest interest). Global Test and ANCOVA Global Test have the important advantage of being able to analyze continuous and survival phenotypes and to adjust for covariates. A free Microsoft Excel Add-In to perform SAM-GS is available from .
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-431
PMCID: PMC2238724  PMID: 17988400
25.  Computational Approaches to Phenotyping 
The recent completion of the Human Genome Project has made possible a high-throughput “systems approach” for accelerating the elucidation of molecular underpinnings of human diseases, and subsequent derivation of molecular-based strategies to more effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat these diseases. Although altered phenotypes are among the most reliable manifestations of altered gene functions, research using systematic analysis of phenotype relationships to study human biology is still in its infancy. This article focuses on the emerging field of high-throughput phenotyping (HTP) phenomics research, which aims to capitalize on novel high-throughput computation and informatics technology developments to derive genomewide molecular networks of genotype–phenotype associations, or “phenomic associations.” The HTP phenomics research field faces the challenge of technological research and development to generate novel tools in computation and informatics that will allow researchers to amass, access, integrate, organize, and manage phenotypic databases across species and enable genomewide analysis to associate phenotypic information with genomic data at different scales of biology. Key state-of-the-art technological advancements critical for HTP phenomics research are covered in this review. In particular, we highlight the power of computational approaches to conduct large-scale phenomics studies.
doi:10.1513/pats.200607-142JG
PMCID: PMC2647609  PMID: 17202287
computational genomics; gene–disease associations; phenomics; phenotype

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