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1.  Assessing the gain of biological data integration in gene networks inference 
BMC Genomics  2012;13(Suppl 6):S7.
A current challenge in gene annotation is to define the gene function in the context of the network of relationships instead of using single genes. The inference of gene networks (GNs) has emerged as an approach to better understand the biology of the system and to study how several components of this network interact with each other and keep their functions stable. However, in general there is no sufficient data to accurately recover the GNs from their expression levels leading to the curse of dimensionality, in which the number of variables is higher than samples. One way to mitigate this problem is to integrate biological data instead of using only the expression profiles in the inference process. Nowadays, the use of several biological information in inference methods had a significant increase in order to better recover the connections between genes and reduce the false positives. What makes this strategy so interesting is the possibility of confirming the known connections through the included biological data, and the possibility of discovering new relationships between genes when observed the expression data. Although several works in data integration have increased the performance of the network inference methods, the real contribution of adding each type of biological information in the obtained improvement is not clear.
We propose a methodology to include biological information into an inference algorithm in order to assess its prediction gain by using biological information and expression profile together. We also evaluated and compared the gain of adding four types of biological information: (a) protein-protein interaction, (b) Rosetta stone fusion proteins, (c) KEGG and (d) KEGG+GO.
Results and conclusions
This work presents a first comparison of the gain in the use of prior biological information in the inference of GNs by considering the eukaryote (P. falciparum) organism. Our results indicates that information based on direct interaction can produce a higher improvement in the gain than data about a less specific relationship as GO or KEGG. Also, as expected, the results show that the use of biological information is a very important approach for the improvement of the inference. We also compared the gain in the inference of the global network and only the hubs. The results indicates that the use of biological information can improve the identification of the most connected proteins.
PMCID: PMC3481449  PMID: 23134775
2.  Inference of gene regulatory networks from time series by Tsallis entropy 
BMC Systems Biology  2011;5:61.
The inference of gene regulatory networks (GRNs) from large-scale expression profiles is one of the most challenging problems of Systems Biology nowadays. Many techniques and models have been proposed for this task. However, it is not generally possible to recover the original topology with great accuracy, mainly due to the short time series data in face of the high complexity of the networks and the intrinsic noise of the expression measurements. In order to improve the accuracy of GRNs inference methods based on entropy (mutual information), a new criterion function is here proposed.
In this paper we introduce the use of generalized entropy proposed by Tsallis, for the inference of GRNs from time series expression profiles. The inference process is based on a feature selection approach and the conditional entropy is applied as criterion function. In order to assess the proposed methodology, the algorithm is applied to recover the network topology from temporal expressions generated by an artificial gene network (AGN) model as well as from the DREAM challenge. The adopted AGN is based on theoretical models of complex networks and its gene transference function is obtained from random drawing on the set of possible Boolean functions, thus creating its dynamics. On the other hand, DREAM time series data presents variation of network size and its topologies are based on real networks. The dynamics are generated by continuous differential equations with noise and perturbation. By adopting both data sources, it is possible to estimate the average quality of the inference with respect to different network topologies, transfer functions and network sizes.
A remarkable improvement of accuracy was observed in the experimental results by reducing the number of false connections in the inferred topology by the non-Shannon entropy. The obtained best free parameter of the Tsallis entropy was on average in the range 2.5 ≤ q ≤ 3.5 (hence, subextensive entropy), which opens new perspectives for GRNs inference methods based on information theory and for investigation of the nonextensivity of such networks. The inference algorithm and criterion function proposed here were implemented and included in the DimReduction software, which is freely available at and
PMCID: PMC3117729  PMID: 21545720
4.  Feature selection environment for genomic applications 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:451.
Feature selection is a pattern recognition approach to choose important variables according to some criteria in order to distinguish or explain certain phenomena (i.e., for dimensionality reduction). There are many genomic and proteomic applications that rely on feature selection to answer questions such as selecting signature genes which are informative about some biological state, e.g., normal tissues and several types of cancer; or inferring a prediction network among elements such as genes, proteins and external stimuli. In these applications, a recurrent problem is the lack of samples to perform an adequate estimate of the joint probabilities between element states. A myriad of feature selection algorithms and criterion functions have been proposed, although it is difficult to point the best solution for each application.
The intent of this work is to provide an open-source multiplataform graphical environment for bioinformatics problems, which supports many feature selection algorithms, criterion functions and graphic visualization tools such as scatterplots, parallel coordinates and graphs. A feature selection approach for growing genetic networks from seed genes (targets or predictors) is also implemented in the system.
The proposed feature selection environment allows data analysis using several algorithms, criterion functions and graphic visualization tools. Our experiments have shown the software effectiveness in two distinct types of biological problems. Besides, the environment can be used in different pattern recognition applications, although the main concern regards bioinformatics tasks.
PMCID: PMC2655091  PMID: 18945362
5.  A feature selection approach for identification of signature genes from SAGE data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:169.
One goal of gene expression profiling is to identify signature genes that robustly distinguish different types or grades of tumors. Several tumor classifiers based on expression profiling have been proposed using microarray technique. Due to important differences in the probabilistic models of microarray and SAGE technologies, it is important to develop suitable techniques to select specific genes from SAGE measurements.
A new framework to select specific genes that distinguish different biological states based on the analysis of SAGE data is proposed. The new framework applies the bolstered error for the identification of strong genes that separate the biological states in a feature space defined by the gene expression of a training set. Credibility intervals defined from a probabilistic model of SAGE measurements are used to identify the genes that distinguish the different states with more reliability among all gene groups selected by the strong genes method. A score taking into account the credibility and the bolstered error values in order to rank the groups of considered genes is proposed. Results obtained using SAGE data from gliomas are presented, thus corroborating the introduced methodology.
The model representing counting data, such as SAGE, provides additional statistical information that allows a more robust analysis. The additional statistical information provided by the probabilistic model is incorporated in the methodology described in the paper. The introduced method is suitable to identify signature genes that lead to a good separation of the biological states using SAGE and may be adapted for other counting methods such as Massive Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS) or the recent Sequencing-By-Synthesis (SBS) technique. Some of such genes identified by the proposed method may be useful to generate classifiers.
PMCID: PMC1891113  PMID: 17519038
6.  Automated detection of proliferative retinopathy in clinical practice 
Timely intervention for diabetic retinopathy (DR) lessens the possibility of blindness and can save considerable costs to health systems. To ensure that interventions are timely and effective requires methods of screening and monitoring pathological changes, including assessing outcomes. Fractal analysis, one method that has been studied for assessing DR, is potentially relevant in today’s world of telemedicine because it provides objective indices from digital images of complex patterns such as are seen in retinal vasculature, which is affected in DR. We introduce here a protocol to distinguish between nonproliferative (NPDR) and proliferative (PDR) changes in retinal vasculature using a fractal analysis method known as local connected dimension (Dconn) analysis. The major finding is that compared to other fractal analysis methods, Dconn analysis better differentiates NPDR from PDR (p = 0.05). In addition, we are the first to show that fractal analysis can be used to differentiate between NPDR and PDR using automated vessel identification. Overall, our results suggest this protocol can complement existing methods by including an automated and objective measure obtainable at a lower level of expertise that experts can then use in screening for and monitoring DR.
PMCID: PMC2698675  PMID: 19668394
diabetes; proliferative retinopathy; automated clinical assessment; fractal dimension; complex systems

Results 1-6 (6)