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1.  Integrative Gene Network Construction to Analyze Cancer Recurrence Using Semi-Supervised Learning 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86309.
Background
The prognosis of cancer recurrence is an important research area in bioinformatics and is challenging due to the small sample sizes compared to the vast number of genes. There have been several attempts to predict cancer recurrence. Most studies employed a supervised approach, which uses only a few labeled samples. Semi-supervised learning can be a great alternative to solve this problem. There have been few attempts based on manifold assumptions to reveal the detailed roles of identified cancer genes in recurrence.
Results
In order to predict cancer recurrence, we proposed a novel semi-supervised learning algorithm based on a graph regularization approach. We transformed the gene expression data into a graph structure for semi-supervised learning and integrated protein interaction data with the gene expression data to select functionally-related gene pairs. Then, we predicted the recurrence of cancer by applying a regularization approach to the constructed graph containing both labeled and unlabeled nodes.
Conclusions
The average improvement rate of accuracy for three different cancer datasets was 24.9% compared to existing supervised and semi-supervised methods. We performed functional enrichment on the gene networks used for learning. We identified that those gene networks are significantly associated with cancer-recurrence-related biological functions. Our algorithm was developed with standard C++ and is available in Linux and MS Windows formats in the STL library. The executable program is freely available at: http://embio.yonsei.ac.kr/~Park/ssl.php.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086309
PMCID: PMC3908883  PMID: 24497942
2.  Semi-supervised clinical text classification with Laplacian SVMs: an application to cancer case management 
Journal of biomedical informatics  2013;46(5):869-875.
Objective
To compare linear and Laplacian SVMs on a clinical text classification task; to evaluate the effect of unlabeled training data on Laplacian SVM performance.
Background
The development of machine-learning based clinical text classifiers requires the creation of labeled training data, obtained via manual review by clinicians. Due to the effort and expense involved in labeling data, training data sets in the clinical domain are of limited size. In contrast, electronic medical record (EMR) systems contain hundreds of thousands of unlabeled notes that are not used by supervised machine learning approaches. Semi-supervised learning algorithms use both labeled and unlabeled data to train classifiers, and can outperform their supervised counterparts.
Methods
We trained support vector machines (SVMs) and Laplacian SVMs on a training reference standard of 820 abdominal CT, MRI, and Ultrasound reports labeled for the presence of potentially malignant liver lesions that require follow up (positive class prevalence 77%). The Laplacian SVM used 19,845 randomly sampled unlabeled notes in addition to the training reference standard. We evaluated SVMs and Laplacian SVMs on a test set of 520 labeled reports.
Results
The Laplacian SVM trained on labeled and unlabeled radiology reports significantly outperformed supervised SVMs (Macro-F1 0.773 vs. 0.741, Sensitivity 0.943 vs. 0.911, Positive Predictive value 0.877 vs. 0.883). Performance improved with the number of labeled and unlabeled notes used to train the Laplacian SVM (pearson’s ρ=0.529 for correlation between number of unlabeled notes and macro-F1 score). These results suggest that practical semi-supervised methods such as the Laplacian SVM can leverage the large, unlabeled corpora that reside within EMRs to improve clinical text classification.
doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2013.06.014
PMCID: PMC3806632  PMID: 23845911
Semi-supervised learning; Support vector machine; Graph Laplacian; Natural language processing
3.  A semi-supervised learning approach to predict synthetic genetic interactions by combining functional and topological properties of functional gene network 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:343.
Background
Genetic interaction profiles are highly informative and helpful for understanding the functional linkages between genes, and therefore have been extensively exploited for annotating gene functions and dissecting specific pathway structures. However, our understanding is rather limited to the relationship between double concurrent perturbation and various higher level phenotypic changes, e.g. those in cells, tissues or organs. Modifier screens, such as synthetic genetic arrays (SGA) can help us to understand the phenotype caused by combined gene mutations. Unfortunately, exhaustive tests on all possible combined mutations in any genome are vulnerable to combinatorial explosion and are infeasible either technically or financially. Therefore, an accurate computational approach to predict genetic interaction is highly desirable, and such methods have the potential of alleviating the bottleneck on experiment design.
Results
In this work, we introduce a computational systems biology approach for the accurate prediction of pairwise synthetic genetic interactions (SGI). First, a high-coverage and high-precision functional gene network (FGN) is constructed by integrating protein-protein interaction (PPI), protein complex and gene expression data; then, a graph-based semi-supervised learning (SSL) classifier is utilized to identify SGI, where the topological properties of protein pairs in weighted FGN is used as input features of the classifier. We compare the proposed SSL method with the state-of-the-art supervised classifier, the support vector machines (SVM), on a benchmark dataset in S. cerevisiae to validate our method's ability to distinguish synthetic genetic interactions from non-interaction gene pairs. Experimental results show that the proposed method can accurately predict genetic interactions in S. cerevisiae (with a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 91%). Noticeably, the SSL method is more efficient than SVM, especially for very small training sets and large test sets.
Conclusions
We developed a graph-based SSL classifier for predicting the SGI. The classifier employs topological properties of weighted FGN as input features and simultaneously employs information induced from labelled and unlabelled data. Our analysis indicates that the topological properties of weighted FGN can be employed to accurately predict SGI. Also, the graph-based SSL method outperforms the traditional standard supervised approach, especially when used with small training sets. The proposed method can alleviate experimental burden of exhaustive test and provide a useful guide for the biologist in narrowing down the candidate gene pairs with SGI. The data and source code implementing the method are available from the website: http://home.ustc.edu.cn/~yzh33108/GeneticInterPred.htm
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-343
PMCID: PMC2909217  PMID: 20573270
4.  Discriminative local subspaces in gene expression data for effective gene function prediction 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(17):2256-2264.
Motivation: Massive amounts of genome-wide gene expression data have become available, motivating the development of computational approaches that leverage this information to predict gene function. Among successful approaches, supervised machine learning methods, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs), have shown superior prediction accuracy. However, these methods lack the simple biological intuition provided by co-expression networks (CNs), limiting their practical usefulness.
Results: In this work, we present Discriminative Local Subspaces (DLS), a novel method that combines supervised machine learning and co-expression techniques with the goal of systematically predict genes involved in specific biological processes of interest. Unlike traditional CNs, DLS uses the knowledge available in Gene Ontology (GO) to generate informative training sets that guide the discovery of expression signatures: expression patterns that are discriminative for genes involved in the biological process of interest. By linking genes co-expressed with these signatures, DLS is able to construct a discriminative CN that links both, known and previously uncharacterized genes, for the selected biological process. This article focuses on the algorithm behind DLS and shows its predictive power using an Arabidopsis thaliana dataset and a representative set of 101 GO terms from the Biological Process Ontology. Our results show that DLS has a superior average accuracy than both SVMs and CNs. Thus, DLS is able to provide the prediction accuracy of supervised learning methods while maintaining the intuitive understanding of CNs.
Availability: A MATLAB® implementation of DLS is available at http://virtualplant.bio.puc.cl/cgi-bin/Lab/tools.cgi
Contact: tfpuelma@uc.cl
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at http://bioinformatics.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/bts455
PMCID: PMC3426849  PMID: 22820203
5.  Semi-supervised prediction of protein subcellular localization using abstraction augmented Markov models 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11(Suppl 8):S6.
Background
Determination of protein subcellular localization plays an important role in understanding protein function. Knowledge of the subcellular localization is also essential for genome annotation and drug discovery. Supervised machine learning methods for predicting the localization of a protein in a cell rely on the availability of large amounts of labeled data. However, because of the high cost and effort involved in labeling the data, the amount of labeled data is quite small compared to the amount of unlabeled data. Hence, there is a growing interest in developing semi-supervised methods for predicting protein subcellular localization from large amounts of unlabeled data together with small amounts of labeled data.
Results
In this paper, we present an Abstraction Augmented Markov Model (AAMM) based approach to semi-supervised protein subcellular localization prediction problem. We investigate the effectiveness of AAMMs in exploiting unlabeled data. We compare semi-supervised AAMMs with: (i) Markov models (MMs) (which do not take advantage of unlabeled data); (ii) an expectation maximization (EM); and (iii) a co-training based approaches to semi-supervised training of MMs (that make use of unlabeled data).
Conclusions
The results of our experiments on three protein subcellular localization data sets show that semi-supervised AAMMs: (i) can effectively exploit unlabeled data; (ii) are more accurate than both the MMs and the EM based semi-supervised MMs; and (iii) are comparable in performance, and in some cases outperform, the co-training based semi-supervised MMs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-S8-S6
PMCID: PMC2966293  PMID: 21034431
6.  Integrating microRNA target predictions for the discovery of gene regulatory networks: a semi-supervised ensemble learning approach 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(Suppl 1):S4.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs which play a key role in the post-transcriptional regulation of many genes. Elucidating miRNA-regulated gene networks is crucial for the understanding of mechanisms and functions of miRNAs in many biological processes, such as cell proliferation, development, differentiation and cell homeostasis, as well as in many types of human tumors. To this aim, we have recently presented the biclustering method HOCCLUS2, for the discovery of miRNA regulatory networks. Experiments on predicted interactions revealed that the statistical and biological consistency of the obtained networks is negatively affected by the poor reliability of the output of miRNA target prediction algorithms. Recently, some learning approaches have been proposed to learn to combine the outputs of distinct prediction algorithms and improve their accuracy. However, the application of classical supervised learning algorithms presents two challenges: i) the presence of only positive examples in datasets of experimentally verified interactions and ii) unbalanced number of labeled and unlabeled examples.
Results
We present a learning algorithm that learns to combine the score returned by several prediction algorithms, by exploiting information conveyed by (only positively labeled/) validated and unlabeled examples of interactions. To face the two related challenges, we resort to a semi-supervised ensemble learning setting. Results obtained using miRTarBase as the set of labeled (positive) interactions and mirDIP as the set of unlabeled interactions show a significant improvement, over competitive approaches, in the quality of the predictions. This solution also improves the effectiveness of HOCCLUS2 in discovering biologically realistic miRNA:mRNA regulatory networks from large-scale prediction data. Using the miR-17-92 gene cluster family as a reference system and comparing results with previous experiments, we find a large increase in the number of significantly enriched biclusters in pathways, consistent with miR-17-92 functions.
Conclusion
The proposed approach proves to be fundamental for the computational discovery of miRNA regulatory networks from large-scale predictions. This paves the way to the systematic application of HOCCLUS2 for a comprehensive reconstruction of all the possible multiple interactions established by miRNAs in regulating the expression of gene networks, which would be otherwise impossible to reconstruct by considering only experimentally validated interactions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-15-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC4015287  PMID: 24564296
7.  Semi-supervised recursively partitioned mixture models for identifying cancer subtypes 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(20):2578-2585.
Motivation: Patients with identical cancer diagnoses often progress differently. The disparity we see in disease progression and treatment response can be attributed to the idea that two histologically similar cancers may be completely different diseases on the molecular level. Methods for identifying cancer subtypes associated with patient survival have the capacity to be powerful instruments for understanding the biochemical processes that underlie disease progression as well as providing an initial step toward more personalized therapy for cancer patients. We propose a method called semi-supervised recursively partitioned mixture models (SS-RPMM) that utilizes array-based genetic and patient-level clinical data for finding cancer subtypes that are associated with patient survival.
Results: In the proposed SS-RPMM, cancer subtypes are identified using a selected subset of genes that are associated with survival time. Since survival information is used in the gene selection step, this method is semi-supervised. Unlike other semi-supervised clustering classification methods, SS-RPMM does not require specification of the number of cancer subtypes, which is often unknown. In a simulation study, our proposed method compared favorably with other competing semi-supervised methods, including: semi-supervised clustering and supervised principal components analysis. Furthermore, an analysis of mesothelioma cancer data using SS-RPMM, revealed at least two distinct methylation profiles that are informative for survival.
Availability: The analyses implemented in this article were carried out using R (http://www.r.project.org/).
Contact: devin_koestler@brown.edu; e_andres_houseman@brown.edu
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq470
PMCID: PMC2951086  PMID: 20834038
8.  Determining Effects of Non-synonymous SNPs on Protein-Protein Interactions using Supervised and Semi-supervised Learning 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(5):e1003592.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are among the most common types of genetic variation in complex genetic disorders. A growing number of studies link the functional role of SNPs with the networks and pathways mediated by the disease-associated genes. For example, many non-synonymous missense SNPs (nsSNPs) have been found near or inside the protein-protein interaction (PPI) interfaces. Determining whether such nsSNP will disrupt or preserve a PPI is a challenging task to address, both experimentally and computationally. Here, we present this task as three related classification problems, and develop a new computational method, called the SNP-IN tool (non-synonymous SNP INteraction effect predictor). Our method predicts the effects of nsSNPs on PPIs, given the interaction's structure. It leverages supervised and semi-supervised feature-based classifiers, including our new Random Forest self-learning protocol. The classifiers are trained based on a dataset of comprehensive mutagenesis studies for 151 PPI complexes, with experimentally determined binding affinities of the mutant and wild-type interactions. Three classification problems were considered: (1) a 2-class problem (strengthening/weakening PPI mutations), (2) another 2-class problem (mutations that disrupt/preserve a PPI), and (3) a 3-class classification (detrimental/neutral/beneficial mutation effects). In total, 11 different supervised and semi-supervised classifiers were trained and assessed resulting in a promising performance, with the weighted f-measure ranging from 0.87 for Problem 1 to 0.70 for the most challenging Problem 3. By integrating prediction results of the 2-class classifiers into the 3-class classifier, we further improved its performance for Problem 3. To demonstrate the utility of SNP-IN tool, it was applied to study the nsSNP-induced rewiring of two disease-centered networks. The accurate and balanced performance of SNP-IN tool makes it readily available to study the rewiring of large-scale protein-protein interaction networks, and can be useful for functional annotation of disease-associated SNPs. SNIP-IN tool is freely accessible as a web-server at http://korkinlab.org/snpintool/.
Author Summary
Many genetic diseases in humans and animals are caused by combinations of single-letter mutations, or SNPs. When these mutations occur in a protein-coding region of a genome, they can have a profound effect on the protein's function and ultimately on a health-related phenotype. Recently, a growing number of evidence suggests that many of SNPs reside on or near the protein regions that are required for the interactions with other proteins. Some of these SNPs could rewire the protein-protein interactions altering the functions of the protein interaction complexes, while other SNPs are neutral to the interactions. Understanding the effect of SNPs on the protein-protein interactions is a challenging problem to solve, both experimentally and computationally. Here, we leverage the machine learning methods by training a computational predictor to tell apart the mutations that are harmful to protein-protein interactions from those ones that are not. We use these tools in two case studies of mutations affecting the protein-protein interaction networks centered around the genes associated with breast cancer and diabetes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003592
PMCID: PMC4006705  PMID: 24784581
9.  Cancer module genes ranking using kernelized score functions 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13(Suppl 14):S3.
Background
Co-expression based Cancer Modules (CMs) are sets of genes that act in concert to carry out specific functions in different cancer types, and are constructed by exploiting gene expression profiles related to specific clinical conditions or expression signatures associated to specific processes altered in cancer. Unfortunately, genes involved in cancer are not always detectable using only expression signatures or co-expressed sets of genes, and in principle other types of functional interactions should be exploited to obtain a comprehensive picture of the molecular mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of cancer.
Results
We propose a novel semi-supervised method to rank genes with respect to CMs using networks constructed from different sources of functional information, not limited to gene expression data. It exploits on the one hand local learning strategies through score functions that extend the guilt-by-association approach, and on the other hand global learning strategies through graph kernels embedded in the score functions, able to take into account the overall topology of the network. The proposed kernelized score functions compare favorably with other state-of-the-art semi-supervised machine learning methods for gene ranking in biological networks and scales well with the number of genes, thus allowing fast processing of very large gene networks.
Conclusions
The modular nature of kernelized score functions provides an algorithmic scheme from which different gene ranking algorithms can be derived, and the results show that using integrated functional networks we can successfully predict CMs defined mainly through expression signatures obtained from gene expression data profiling. A preliminary analysis of top ranked "false positive" genes shows that our approach could be in perspective applied to discover novel genes involved in the onset and progression of tumors related to specific CMs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S14-S3
PMCID: PMC3439680  PMID: 23095178
10.  Gene Expression Classification of Colon Cancer into Molecular Subtypes: Characterization, Validation, and Prognostic Value 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001453.
Background
Colon cancer (CC) pathological staging fails to accurately predict recurrence, and to date, no gene expression signature has proven reliable for prognosis stratification in clinical practice, perhaps because CC is a heterogeneous disease. The aim of this study was to establish a comprehensive molecular classification of CC based on mRNA expression profile analyses.
Methods and Findings
Fresh-frozen primary tumor samples from a large multicenter cohort of 750 patients with stage I to IV CC who underwent surgery between 1987 and 2007 in seven centers were characterized for common DNA alterations, including BRAF, KRAS, and TP53 mutations, CpG island methylator phenotype, mismatch repair status, and chromosomal instability status, and were screened with whole genome and transcriptome arrays. 566 samples fulfilled RNA quality requirements. Unsupervised consensus hierarchical clustering applied to gene expression data from a discovery subset of 443 CC samples identified six molecular subtypes. These subtypes were associated with distinct clinicopathological characteristics, molecular alterations, specific enrichments of supervised gene expression signatures (stem cell phenotype–like, normal-like, serrated CC phenotype–like), and deregulated signaling pathways. Based on their main biological characteristics, we distinguished a deficient mismatch repair subtype, a KRAS mutant subtype, a cancer stem cell subtype, and three chromosomal instability subtypes, including one associated with down-regulated immune pathways, one with up-regulation of the Wnt pathway, and one displaying a normal-like gene expression profile. The classification was validated in the remaining 123 samples plus an independent set of 1,058 CC samples, including eight public datasets. Furthermore, prognosis was analyzed in the subset of stage II–III CC samples. The subtypes C4 and C6, but not the subtypes C1, C2, C3, and C5, were independently associated with shorter relapse-free survival, even after adjusting for age, sex, stage, and the emerging prognostic classifier Oncotype DX Colon Cancer Assay recurrence score (hazard ratio 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1, p = 0.0097). However, a limitation of this study is that information on tumor grade and number of nodes examined was not available.
Conclusions
We describe the first, to our knowledge, robust transcriptome-based classification of CC that improves the current disease stratification based on clinicopathological variables and common DNA markers. The biological relevance of these subtypes is illustrated by significant differences in prognosis. This analysis provides possibilities for improving prognostic models and therapeutic strategies. In conclusion, we report a new classification of CC into six molecular subtypes that arise through distinct biological pathways.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cancer of the large bowel (colorectal cancer) is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Despite recent advances in the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal cancer, an estimated 608,000 people die every year from this form of cancer—8% of all cancer deaths. The prognosis and treatment options for colorectal cancer depend on five pathological stages (0–IV), each of which has a different treatment option and five year survival rate, so it is important that the stage is correctly identified. Unfortunately, pathological staging fails to accurately predict recurrence (relapse) in patients undergoing surgery for localized colorectal cancer, which is a concern, as 10%–20% of patients with stage II and 30%–40% of those with stage III colorectal cancer develop recurrence.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have investigated whether there are any possible gene expression profiles (identified through microarray techniques) that can help predict prognosis of colorectal cancer, but so far, there have been no firm conclusions that can aid clinical practice. In this study, the researchers used genetic information from a French multicenter study to identify a standard, reproducible molecular classification based on gene expression analysis of colorectal cancer. The authors also assessed whether there were any associations between the identified molecular subtypes and clinical and pathological factors, common DNA alterations, and prognosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used genetic information from a cohort of 750 patients with stage I to IV colorectal cancer who underwent surgery between 1987 and 2007 in seven centers in France. The researchers identified relevant clinical and pathological staging information for each patient from the medical records and calculated recurrence-free survival (the time from surgery to the first recurrence) for patients with stage II or III disease. In the genetic analysis, 566 tumor samples were suitable—443 were used in a discovery set, to create the classification, and the remainder were used in a validation set, to test the classification. The researchers also used information from eight public datasets to validate their findings.
Using these methods, the researchers classified the colon cancer samples into six molecular subtypes (based on gene expression data) and, on further analysis and validation, were able to distinguish the main biological characteristics and deregulated pathways associated with each subtype. Importantly, the researchers found that that these six subtypes were associated with distinct clinical and pathological characteristics, molecular alterations, specific gene expression signatures, and deregulated signaling pathways. In the prognostic analysis based on recurrence-free survival, the researchers found that patients whose tumors were classified in one of two clusters (C4 and C6) had poorer recurrence-free survival than the other patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that it is possible to classify colorectal cancer into six robust molecular subtypes that might help identify new prognostic subgroups and could provide a basis for developing robust prognostic genetic signatures for stage II and III colorectal cancer and for identifying specific markers for the different subtypes that might be targets for future drug development. However, as this study was retrospective and did not include some known predictors of colorectal cancer prognosis, such as tumor grade and number of nodes examined, the significance and robustness of the prognostic classification requires further confirmation with large prospective patient cohorts.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001453.
The American Cancer Society provides information about colorectal cancer and also about how colorectal cancer is staged
The US National Cancer Institute also provides information on colon and rectal cancer and colon cancer stages
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001453
PMCID: PMC3660251  PMID: 23700391
11.  An Unsupervised Text Mining Method for Relation Extraction from Biomedical Literature 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102039.
The wealth of interaction information provided in biomedical articles motivated the implementation of text mining approaches to automatically extract biomedical relations. This paper presents an unsupervised method based on pattern clustering and sentence parsing to deal with biomedical relation extraction. Pattern clustering algorithm is based on Polynomial Kernel method, which identifies interaction words from unlabeled data; these interaction words are then used in relation extraction between entity pairs. Dependency parsing and phrase structure parsing are combined for relation extraction. Based on the semi-supervised KNN algorithm, we extend the proposed unsupervised approach to a semi-supervised approach by combining pattern clustering, dependency parsing and phrase structure parsing rules. We evaluated the approaches on two different tasks: (1) Protein–protein interactions extraction, and (2) Gene–suicide association extraction. The evaluation of task (1) on the benchmark dataset (AImed corpus) showed that our proposed unsupervised approach outperformed three supervised methods. The three supervised methods are rule based, SVM based, and Kernel based separately. The proposed semi-supervised approach is superior to the existing semi-supervised methods. The evaluation on gene–suicide association extraction on a smaller dataset from Genetic Association Database and a larger dataset from publicly available PubMed showed that the proposed unsupervised and semi-supervised methods achieved much higher F-scores than co-occurrence based method.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102039
PMCID: PMC4103846  PMID: 25036529
12.  Ensemble Semi-supervised Frame-work for Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tissue Segmentation 
Brain magnetic resonance images (MRIs) tissue segmentation is one of the most important parts of the clinical diagnostic tools. Pixel classification methods have been frequently used in the image segmentation with two supervised and unsupervised approaches up to now. Supervised segmentation methods lead to high accuracy, but they need a large amount of labeled data, which is hard, expensive, and slow to obtain. Moreover, they cannot use unlabeled data to train classifiers. On the other hand, unsupervised segmentation methods have no prior knowledge and lead to low level of performance. However, semi-supervised learning which uses a few labeled data together with a large amount of unlabeled data causes higher accuracy with less trouble. In this paper, we propose an ensemble semi-supervised frame-work for segmenting of brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tissues that it has been used results of several semi-supervised classifiers simultaneously. Selecting appropriate classifiers has a significant role in the performance of this frame-work. Hence, in this paper, we present two semi-supervised algorithms expectation filtering maximization and MCo_Training that are improved versions of semi-supervised methods expectation maximization and Co_Training and increase segmentation accuracy. Afterward, we use these improved classifiers together with graph-based semi-supervised classifier as components of the ensemble frame-work. Experimental results show that performance of segmentation in this approach is higher than both supervised methods and the individual semi-supervised classifiers.
PMCID: PMC3788199  PMID: 24098863
Brain magnetic resonance image tissue segmentation; ensemble semi-supervised frame-work; expectation filtering maximization classifier; MCo_Training classifier
13.  A robust data-driven approach for gene ontology annotation 
Gene ontology (GO) and GO annotation are important resources for biological information management and knowledge discovery, but the speed of manual annotation became a major bottleneck of database curation. BioCreative IV GO annotation task aims to evaluate the performance of system that automatically assigns GO terms to genes based on the narrative sentences in biomedical literature. This article presents our work in this task as well as the experimental results after the competition. For the evidence sentence extraction subtask, we built a binary classifier to identify evidence sentences using reference distance estimator (RDE), a recently proposed semi-supervised learning method that learns new features from around 10 million unlabeled sentences, achieving an F1 of 19.3% in exact match and 32.5% in relaxed match. In the post-submission experiment, we obtained 22.1% and 35.7% F1 performance by incorporating bigram features in RDE learning. In both development and test sets, RDE-based method achieved over 20% relative improvement on F1 and AUC performance against classical supervised learning methods, e.g. support vector machine and logistic regression. For the GO term prediction subtask, we developed an information retrieval-based method to retrieve the GO term most relevant to each evidence sentence using a ranking function that combined cosine similarity and the frequency of GO terms in documents, and a filtering method based on high-level GO classes. The best performance of our submitted runs was 7.8% F1 and 22.2% hierarchy F1. We found that the incorporation of frequency information and hierarchy filtering substantially improved the performance. In the post-submission evaluation, we obtained a 10.6% F1 using a simpler setting. Overall, the experimental analysis showed our approaches were robust in both the two tasks.
doi:10.1093/database/bau113
PMCID: PMC4243380  PMID: 25425037
14.  Learning an enriched representation from unlabeled data for protein-protein interaction extraction 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11(Suppl 2):S7.
Background
Extracting protein-protein interactions from biomedical literature is an important task in biomedical text mining. Supervised machine learning methods have been used with great success in this task but they tend to suffer from data sparseness because of their restriction to obtain knowledge from limited amount of labelled data. In this work, we study the use of unlabeled biomedical texts to enhance the performance of supervised learning for this task. We use feature coupling generalization (FCG) – a recently proposed semi-supervised learning strategy – to learn an enriched representation of local contexts in sentences from 47 million unlabeled examples and investigate the performance of the new features on AIMED corpus.
Results
The new features generated by FCG achieve a 60.1 F-score and produce significant improvement over supervised baselines. The experimental analysis shows that FCG can utilize well the sparse features which have little effect in supervised learning. The new features perform better in non-linear classifiers than linear ones. We combine the new features with local lexical features, obtaining an F-score of 63.5 on AIMED corpus, which is comparable with the current state-of-the-art results. We also find that simple Boolean lexical features derived only from local contexts are able to achieve competitive results against most syntactic feature/kernel based methods.
Conclusions
FCG creates a lot of opportunities for designing new features, since a lot of sparse features ignored by supervised learning can be utilized well. Interestingly, our results also demonstrate that the state-of-the art performance can be achieved without using any syntactic information in this task.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-S2-S7
PMCID: PMC3166043  PMID: 20406505
15.  Reducing confounding and suppression effects in TCGA data: an integrated analysis of chemotherapy response in ovarian cancer 
BMC Genomics  2012;13(Suppl 6):S13.
Background
Despite initial response in adjuvant chemotherapy, ovarian cancer patients treated with the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin frequently suffer from recurrence after few cycles of treatment, and the underlying mechanisms causing the chemoresistance remain unclear. Recently, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) research network concluded an ovarian cancer study and released the dataset to the public. The TCGA dataset possesses large sample size, comprehensive molecular profiles, and clinical outcome information; however, because of the unknown molecular subtypes in ovarian cancer and the great diversity of adjuvant treatments TCGA patients went through, studying chemotherapeutic response using the TCGA data is difficult. Additionally, factors such as sample batches, patient ages, and tumor stages further confound or suppress the identification of relevant genes, and thus the biological functions and disease mechanisms.
Results
To address these issues, herein we propose an analysis procedure designed to reduce suppression effect by focusing on a specific chemotherapeutic treatment, and to remove confounding effects such as batch effect, patient's age, and tumor stages. The proposed procedure starts with a batch effect adjustment, followed by a rigorous sample selection process. Then, the gene expression, copy number, and methylation profiles from the TCGA ovarian cancer dataset are analyzed using a semi-supervised clustering method combined with a novel scoring function. As a result, two molecular classifications, one with poor copy number profiles and one with poor methylation profiles, enriched with unfavorable scores are identified. Compared with the samples enriched with favorable scores, these two classifications exhibit poor progression-free survival (PFS) and might be associated with poor chemotherapy response specifically to the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin. Significant genes and biological processes are detected subsequently using classical statistical approaches and enrichment analysis.
Conclusions
The proposed procedure for the reduction of confounding and suppression effects and the semi-supervised clustering method are essential steps to identify genes associated with the chemotherapeutic response.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-S6-S13
PMCID: PMC3481440  PMID: 23134756
16.  On Efficient Large Margin Semisupervised Learning: Method and Theory 
In classification, semisupervised learning usually involves a large amount of unlabeled data with only a small number of labeled data. This imposes a great challenge in that it is difficult to achieve good classification performance through labeled data alone. To leverage unlabeled data for enhancing classification, this article introduces a large margin semisupervised learning method within the framework of regularization, based on an efficient margin loss for unlabeled data, which seeks efficient extraction of the information from unlabeled data for estimating the Bayes decision boundary for classification. For implementation, an iterative scheme is derived through conditional expectations. Finally, theoretical and numerical analyses are conducted, in addition to an application to gene function prediction. They suggest that the proposed method enables to recover the performance of its supervised counterpart based on complete data in rates of convergence, when possible.
PMCID: PMC3964604  PMID: 24678270
difference convex programming; classification; nonconvex minimization; regularization; support vectors
17.  A negative selection heuristic to predict new transcriptional targets 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 1):S3.
Background
Supervised machine learning approaches have been recently adopted in the inference of transcriptional targets from high throughput trascriptomic and proteomic data showing major improvements from with respect to the state of the art of reverse gene regulatory network methods. Beside traditional unsupervised techniques, a supervised classifier learns, from known examples, a function that is able to recognize new relationships for new data. In the context of gene regulatory inference a supervised classifier is coerced to learn from positive and unlabeled examples, as the counter negative examples are unavailable or hard to collect. Such a condition could limit the performance of the classifier especially when the amount of training examples is low.
Results
In this paper we improve the supervised identification of transcriptional targets by selecting reliable counter negative examples from the unlabeled set. We introduce an heuristic based on the known topology of transcriptional networks that in fact restores the conventional positive/negative training condition and shows a significant improvement of the classification performance. We empirically evaluate the proposed heuristic with the experimental datasets of Escherichia coli and show an example of application in the prediction of BCL6 direct core targets in normal germinal center human B cells obtaining a precision of 60%.
Conclusions
The availability of only positive examples in learning transcriptional relationships negatively affects the performance of supervised classifiers. We show that the selection of reliable negative examples, a practice adopted in text mining approaches, improves the performance of such classifiers opening new perspectives in the identification of new transcriptional targets.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC3548675  PMID: 23368951
18.  Supervised, semi-supervised and unsupervised inference of gene regulatory networks 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2013;15(2):195-211.
Inference of gene regulatory network from expression data is a challenging task. Many methods have been developed to this purpose but a comprehensive evaluation that covers unsupervised, semi-supervised and supervised methods, and provides guidelines for their practical application, is lacking.
We performed an extensive evaluation of inference methods on simulated and experimental expression data. The results reveal low prediction accuracies for unsupervised techniques with the notable exception of the Z-SCORE method on knockout data. In all other cases, the supervised approach achieved the highest accuracies and even in a semi-supervised setting with small numbers of only positive samples, outperformed the unsupervised techniques.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbt034
PMCID: PMC3956069  PMID: 23698722
gene regulatory networks; simulation; gene expression data; machine learning
19.  Target Tracking and Classification from Labeled and Unlabeled Data in Wireless Sensor Networks 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(12):23871-23884.
Tracking the locations and identities of moving targets in the surveillance area of wireless sensor networks is studied. In order to not rely on high-cost sensors that have been used in previous researches, we propose the integrated localization and classification based on semi-supervised learning, which uses both labeled and unlabeled data obtained from low-cost distributed sensor network. In our setting, labeled data are obtained by seismic and PIR sensors that contain information about the types of the targets. Unlabeled data are generated from the RF signal strength by applying Gaussian process, which represents the probability of predicted target locations. Finally, by using classified unlabeled data produced by semi-supervised learning, identities and locations of multiple targets are estimated. In addition, we consider a case when the labeled data are absent, which can happen due to fault or lack of the deployed sensor nodes and communication failure. We overcome this situation by defining artificial labeled data utilizing characteristics of support vector machine, which provides information on the importance of each training data point. Experimental results demonstrate the accuracy of the proposed tracking algorithm and its robustness to the absence of the labeled data thanks to the artificial labeled data.
doi:10.3390/s141223871
PMCID: PMC4299091  PMID: 25615729
low-cost sensor network; multi-target tracking; semi-supervised learning; Gaussian process
20.  Regularized Least Squares Cancer Classifiers from DNA microarray data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2005;6(Suppl 4):S2.
Background
The advent of the technology of DNA microarrays constitutes an epochal change in the classification and discovery of different types of cancer because the information provided by DNA microarrays allows an approach to the problem of cancer analysis from a quantitative rather than qualitative point of view. Cancer classification requires well founded mathematical methods which are able to predict the status of new specimens with high significance levels starting from a limited number of data. In this paper we assess the performances of Regularized Least Squares (RLS) classifiers, originally proposed in regularization theory, by comparing them with Support Vector Machines (SVM), the state-of-the-art supervised learning technique for cancer classification by DNA microarray data. The performances of both approaches have been also investigated with respect to the number of selected genes and different gene selection strategies.
Results
We show that RLS classifiers have performances comparable to those of SVM classifiers as the Leave-One-Out (LOO) error evaluated on three different data sets shows. The main advantage of RLS machines is that for solving a classification problem they use a linear system of order equal to either the number of features or the number of training examples. Moreover, RLS machines allow to get an exact measure of the LOO error with just one training.
Conclusion
RLS classifiers are a valuable alternative to SVM classifiers for the problem of cancer classification by gene expression data, due to their simplicity and low computational complexity. Moreover, RLS classifiers show generalization ability comparable to the ones of SVM classifiers also in the case the classification of new specimens involves very few gene expression levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-6-S4-S2
PMCID: PMC1866388  PMID: 16351746
21.  Machine learning for regulatory analysis and transcription factor target prediction in yeast 
Systems and Synthetic Biology  2006;1(1):25-46.
High throughput technologies, including array-based chromatin immunoprecipitation, have rapidly increased our knowledge of transcriptional maps—the identity and location of regulatory binding sites within genomes. Still, the full identification of sites, even in lower eukaryotes, remains largely incomplete. In this paper we develop a supervised learning approach to site identification using support vector machines (SVMs) to combine 26 different data types. A comparison with the standard approach to site identification using position specific scoring matrices (PSSMs) for a set of 104 Saccharomyces cerevisiae regulators indicates that our SVM-based target classification is more sensitive (73 vs. 20%) when specificity and positive predictive value are the same. We have applied our SVM classifier for each transcriptional regulator to all promoters in the yeast genome to obtain thousands of new targets, which are currently being analyzed and refined to limit the risk of classifier over-fitting. For the purpose of illustration we discuss several results, including biochemical pathway predictions for Gcn4 and Rap1. For both transcription factors SVM predictions match well with the known biology of control mechanisms, and possible new roles for these factors are suggested, such as a function for Rap1 in regulating fermentative growth. We also examine the promoter melting temperature curves for the targets of YJR060W, and show that targets of this TF have potentially unique physical properties which distinguish them from other genes. The SVM output automatically provides the means to rank dataset features to identify important biological elements. We use this property to rank classifying k-mers, thereby reconstructing known binding sites for several TFs, and to rank expression experiments, determining the conditions under which Fhl1, the factor responsible for expression of ribosomal protein genes, is active. We can see that targets of Fhl1 are differentially expressed in the chosen conditions as compared to the expression of average and negative set genes. SVM-based classifiers provide a robust framework for analysis of regulatory networks. Processing of classifier outputs can provide high quality predictions and biological insight into functions of particular transcription factors. Future work on this method will focus on increasing the accuracy and quality of predictions using feature reduction and clustering strategies. Since predictions have been made on only 104 TFs in yeast, new classifiers will be built for the remaining 100 factors which have available binding data.
Electronic Supplementary Material
Supplementary material is available in the online version of this article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11693-006-9003-3 and is accessible for authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11693-006-9003-3
PMCID: PMC2533145  PMID: 19003435
Transcription factor; SVM; Machine learning
22.  Semi-supervised consensus clustering for gene expression data analysis 
BioData Mining  2014;7:7.
Background
Simple clustering methods such as hierarchical clustering and k-means are widely used for gene expression data analysis; but they are unable to deal with noise and high dimensionality associated with the microarray gene expression data. Consensus clustering appears to improve the robustness and quality of clustering results. Incorporating prior knowledge in clustering process (semi-supervised clustering) has been shown to improve the consistency between the data partitioning and domain knowledge.
Methods
We proposed semi-supervised consensus clustering (SSCC) to integrate the consensus clustering with semi-supervised clustering for analyzing gene expression data. We investigated the roles of consensus clustering and prior knowledge in improving the quality of clustering. SSCC was compared with one semi-supervised clustering algorithm, one consensus clustering algorithm, and k-means. Experiments on eight gene expression datasets were performed using h-fold cross-validation.
Results
Using prior knowledge improved the clustering quality by reducing the impact of noise and high dimensionality in microarray data. Integration of consensus clustering with semi-supervised clustering improved performance as compared to using consensus clustering or semi-supervised clustering separately. Our SSCC method outperformed the others tested in this paper.
doi:10.1186/1756-0381-7-7
PMCID: PMC4036113  PMID: 24920961
Semi-supervised clustering; Consensus clustering; Semi-supervised consensus clustering; Gene expression
23.  Semi-supervised multi-task learning for predicting interactions between HIV-1 and human proteins 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(18):i645-i652.
Motivation: Protein–protein interactions (PPIs) are critical for virtually every biological function. Recently, researchers suggested to use supervised learning for the task of classifying pairs of proteins as interacting or not. However, its performance is largely restricted by the availability of truly interacting proteins (labeled). Meanwhile, there exists a considerable amount of protein pairs where an association appears between two partners, but not enough experimental evidence to support it as a direct interaction (partially labeled).
Results: We propose a semi-supervised multi-task framework for predicting PPIs from not only labeled, but also partially labeled reference sets. The basic idea is to perform multi-task learning on a supervised classification task and a semi-supervised auxiliary task. The supervised classifier trains a multi-layer perceptron network for PPI predictions from labeled examples. The semi-supervised auxiliary task shares network layers of the supervised classifier and trains with partially labeled examples. Semi-supervision could be utilized in multiple ways. We tried three approaches in this article, (i) classification (to distinguish partial positives with negatives); (ii) ranking (to rate partial positive more likely than negatives); (iii) embedding (to make data clusters get similar labels). We applied this framework to improve the identification of interacting pairs between HIV-1 and human proteins. Our method improved upon the state-of-the-art method for this task indicating the benefits of semi-supervised multi-task learning using auxiliary information.
Availability: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/∼qyj/HIVsemi
Contact: qyj@cs.cmu.edu
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq394
PMCID: PMC2935441  PMID: 20823334
24.  Generative-Discriminative Basis Learning for Medical Imaging 
This paper presents a novel dimensionality reduction method for classification in medical imaging. The goal is to transform very high-dimensional input (typically, millions of voxels) to a low-dimensional representation (small number of constructed features) that preserves discriminative signal and is clinically interpretable. We formulate the task as a constrained optimization problem that combines generative and discriminative objectives and show how to extend it to the semi-supervised learning (SSL) setting. We propose a novel large-scale algorithm to solve the resulting optimization problem. In the fully supervised case, we demonstrate accuracy rates that are better than or comparable to state-of-the-art algorithms on several datasets while producing a representation of the group difference that is consistent with prior clinical reports. Effectiveness of the proposed algorithm for SSL is evaluated with both benchmark and medical imaging datasets. In the benchmark datasets, the results are better than or comparable to the state-of-the-art methods for SSL. For evaluation of the SSL setting in medical datasets, we use images of subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), which is believed to be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease (AD), as unlabeled data. AD subjects and Normal Control (NC) subjects are used as labeled data, and we try to predict conversion from MCI to AD on follow-up. The semi-supervised extension of this method not only improves the generalization accuracy for the labeled data (AD/NC) slightly but is also able to predict subjects which are likely to converge to AD.
doi:10.1109/TMI.2011.2162961
PMCID: PMC3402718  PMID: 21791408
Feature Construction; Basis Learning; Morphological Pattern Analysis; Semi-supervised Learning; Sparsity; Optimization; Matrix Factorization; Classification; Machine Learning; Generative-Discriminative Learning
25.  Data Mining for Gene Networks Relevant to Poor Prognosis in Lung Cancer Via Backward-Chaining Rule Induction 
Cancer informatics  2007;2:93114-.
We use Backward Chaining Rule Induction (BCRI), a novel data mining method for hypothesizing causative mechanisms, to mine lung cancer gene expression array data for mechanisms that could impact survival. Initially, a supervised learning system is used to generate a prediction model in the form of “IF THEN ” style rules. Next, each antecedent (i.e. an IF condition) of a previously discovered rule becomes the outcome class for subsequent application of supervised rule induction. This step is repeated until a termination condition is satisfied. “Chains” of rules are created by working backward from an initial condition (e.g. survival status). Through this iterative process of “backward chaining,” BCRI searches for rules that describe plausible gene interactions for subsequent validation. Thus, BCRI is a semi-supervised approach that constrains the search through the vast space of plausible causal mechanisms by using a top-level outcome to kick-start the process. We demonstrate the general BCRI task sequence, how to implement it, the validation process, and how BCRI-rules discovered from lung cancer microarray data can be combined with prior knowledge to generate hypotheses about functional genomics.
PMCID: PMC2312096  PMID: 19455237
microarray; data analysis; molecular mechanisms; class discovery; semi-supervised methods; decision trees; C4.5; non-small cell lung cancer; systems biology

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