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1.  Transcriptome-guided amyloid imaging genetic analysis via a novel structured sparse learning algorithm 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(17):i564-i571.
Motivation: Imaging genetics is an emerging field that studies the influence of genetic variation on brain structure and function. The major task is to examine the association between genetic markers such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and quantitative traits (QTs) extracted from neuroimaging data. The complexity of these datasets has presented critical bioinformatics challenges that require new enabling tools. Sparse canonical correlation analysis (SCCA) is a bi-multivariate technique used in imaging genetics to identify complex multi-SNP–multi-QT associations. However, most of the existing SCCA algorithms are designed using the soft thresholding method, which assumes that the input features are independent from one another. This assumption clearly does not hold for the imaging genetic data. In this article, we propose a new knowledge-guided SCCA algorithm (KG-SCCA) to overcome this limitation as well as improve learning results by incorporating valuable prior knowledge.
Results: The proposed KG-SCCA method is able to model two types of prior knowledge: one as a group structure (e.g. linkage disequilibrium blocks among SNPs) and the other as a network structure (e.g. gene co-expression network among brain regions). The new model incorporates these prior structures by introducing new regularization terms to encourage weight similarity between grouped or connected features. A new algorithm is designed to solve the KG-SCCA model without imposing the independence constraint on the input features. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithm with both synthetic and real data. For real data, using an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cohort, we examine the imaging genetic associations between all SNPs in the APOE gene (i.e. top AD gene) and amyloid deposition measures among cortical regions (i.e. a major AD hallmark). In comparison with a widely used SCCA implementation, our KG-SCCA algorithm produces not only improved cross-validation performances but also biologically meaningful results.
Availability: Software is freely available on request.
PMCID: PMC4147918  PMID: 25161248
2.  Identifying quantitative trait loci via group-sparse multitask regression and feature selection: an imaging genetics study of the ADNI cohort 
Bioinformatics  2011;28(2):229-237.
Motivation: Recent advances in high-throughput genotyping and brain imaging techniques enable new approaches to study the influence of genetic variation on brain structures and functions. Traditional association studies typically employ independent and pairwise univariate analysis, which treats single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and quantitative traits (QTs) as isolated units and ignores important underlying interacting relationships between the units. New methods are proposed here to overcome this limitation.
Results: Taking into account the interlinked structure within and between SNPs and imaging QTs, we propose a novel Group-Sparse Multi-task Regression and Feature Selection (G-SMuRFS) method to identify quantitative trait loci for multiple disease-relevant QTs and apply it to a study in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Built upon regression analysis, our model uses a new form of regularization, group ℓ2,1-norm (G2,1-norm), to incorporate the biological group structures among SNPs induced from their genetic arrangement. The new G2,1-norm considers the regression coefficients of all the SNPs in each group with respect to all the QTs together and enforces sparsity at the group level. In addition, an ℓ2,1-norm regularization is utilized to couple feature selection across multiple tasks to make use of the shared underlying mechanism among different brain regions. The effectiveness of the proposed method is demonstrated by both clearly improved prediction performance in empirical evaluations and a compact set of selected SNP predictors relevant to the imaging QTs.
Availability: Software is publicly available at:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3259438  PMID: 22155867
3.  From phenotype to genotype: an association study of longitudinal phenotypic markers to Alzheimer's disease relevant SNPs 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(18):i619-i625.
Motivation: Imaging genetic studies typically focus on identifying single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers associated with imaging phenotypes. Few studies perform regression of SNP values on phenotypic measures for examining how the SNP values change when phenotypic measures are varied. This alternative approach may have a potential to help us discover important imaging genetic associations from a different perspective. In addition, the imaging markers are often measured over time, and this longitudinal profile may provide increased power for differentiating genotype groups. How to identify the longitudinal phenotypic markers associated to disease sensitive SNPs is an important and challenging research topic.
Results: Taking into account the temporal structure of the longitudinal imaging data and the interrelatedness among the SNPs, we propose a novel ‘task-correlated longitudinal sparse regression’ model to study the association between the phenotypic imaging markers and the genotypes encoded by SNPs. In our new association model, we extend the widely used ℓ2,1-norm for matrices to tensors to jointly select imaging markers that have common effects across all the regression tasks and time points, and meanwhile impose the trace-norm regularization onto the unfolded coefficient tensor to achieve low rank such that the interrelationship among SNPs can be addressed. The effectiveness of our method is demonstrated by both clearly improved prediction performance in empirical evaluations and a compact set of selected imaging predictors relevant to disease sensitive SNPs.
Availability: Software is publicly available at:
Contact: or
PMCID: PMC3436838  PMID: 22962490
4.  Joint stage recognition and anatomical annotation of drosophila gene expression patterns 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(12):i16-i24.
Motivation: Staining the mRNA of a gene via in situ hybridization (ISH) during the development of a Drosophila melanogaster embryo delivers the detailed spatio-temporal patterns of the gene expression. Many related biological problems such as the detection of co-expressed genes, co-regulated genes and transcription factor binding motifs rely heavily on the analysis of these image patterns. To provide the text-based pattern searching for facilitating related biological studies, the images in the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project (BDGP) study are annotated with developmental stage term and anatomical ontology terms manually by domain experts. Due to the rapid increase in the number of such images and the inevitable bias annotations by human curators, it is necessary to develop an automatic method to recognize the developmental stage and annotate anatomical terms.
Results: In this article, we propose a novel computational model for jointly stage classification and anatomical terms annotation of Drosophila gene expression patterns. We propose a novel Tri-Relational Graph (TG) model that comprises the data graph, anatomical term graph, developmental stage term graph, and connect them by two additional graphs induced from stage or annotation label assignments. Upon the TG model, we introduce a Preferential Random Walk (PRW) method to jointly recognize developmental stage and annotate anatomical terms by utilizing the interrelations between two tasks. The experimental results on two refined BDGP datasets demonstrate that our joint learning method can achieve superior prediction results on both tasks than the state-of-the-art methods.
PMCID: PMC3371852  PMID: 22689756
5.  Identifying disease sensitive and quantitative trait-relevant biomarkers from multidimensional heterogeneous imaging genetics data via sparse multimodal multitask learning 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(12):i127-i136.
Motivation: Recent advances in brain imaging and high-throughput genotyping techniques enable new approaches to study the influence of genetic and anatomical variations on brain functions and disorders. Traditional association studies typically perform independent and pairwise analysis among neuroimaging measures, cognitive scores and disease status, and ignore the important underlying interacting relationships between these units.
Results: To overcome this limitation, in this article, we propose a new sparse multimodal multitask learning method to reveal complex relationships from gene to brain to symptom. Our main contributions are three-fold: (i) introducing combined structured sparsity regularizations into multimodal multitask learning to integrate multidimensional heterogeneous imaging genetics data and identify multimodal biomarkers; (ii) utilizing a joint classification and regression learning model to identify disease-sensitive and cognition-relevant biomarkers; (iii) deriving a new efficient optimization algorithm to solve our non-smooth objective function and providing rigorous theoretical analysis on the global optimum convergency. Using the imaging genetics data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database, the effectiveness of the proposed method is demonstrated by clearly improved performance on predicting both cognitive scores and disease status. The identified multimodal biomarkers could predict not only disease status but also cognitive function to help elucidate the biological pathway from gene to brain structure and function, and to cognition and disease.
Availability: Software is publicly available at:
PMCID: PMC3371860  PMID: 22689752
6.  Solenoid and non-solenoid protein recognition using stationary wavelet packet transform 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(18):i467-i473.
Motivation: Solenoid proteins are emerging as a protein class with properties intermediate between structured and intrinsically unstructured proteins. Containing repeating structural units, solenoid proteins are expected to share sequence similarities. However, in many cases, the sequence similarities are weak and non-detectable. Moreover, solenoids can be degenerated and widely vary in the number of units. So that it is difficult to detect them. Recently, several solenoid repeats detection methods have been proposed, such as self-alignment of the sequence, spectral analysis and discrete Fourier transform of sequence. Although these methods have shown good performance on certain data sets, they often fail to detect repeats with weak similarities. In this article, we propose a new approach to recognize solenoid repeats and non-solenoid proteins using stationary wavelet packet transform (SWPT). Our method associates with three advantages: (i) naturally representing five main factors of protein structure and properties by wavelet analysis technique; (ii) extracting novel wavelet features that can capture hidden components from solenoid sequence similarities and distinguish them from global proteins; (iii) obtaining statistics features that capture repeating motifs of solenoid proteins.
Results: Our method analyzes the characteristics of amino acid sequence in both spectral and temporal domains using SWPT. Both global and local information of proteins are captured by SWPT coefficients. We obtain and integrate wavelet-based features and statistics-based features of amino acid sequence to improve the classification task. Our proposed method is evaluated by comparing to state-of-the-art methods such as HHrepID and REPETITA. The experimental results show that our algorithm consistently outperforms them in areas under ROC curve. At the same false positive rate, the sensitivity of our WAVELET method is higher than other methods.
PMCID: PMC2935422  PMID: 20823309
7.  Mass spectrometry data processing using zero-crossing lines in multi-scale of Gaussian derivative wavelet 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(18):i659-i665.
Motivation: Peaks are the key information in mass spectrometry (MS) which has been increasingly used to discover diseases-related proteomic patterns. Peak detection is an essential step for MS-based proteomic data analysis. Recently, several peak detection algorithms have been proposed. However, in these algorithms, there are three major deficiencies: (i) because the noise is often removed, the true signal could also be removed; (ii) baseline removal step may get rid of true peaks and create new false peaks; (iii) in peak quantification step, a threshold of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is usually used to remove false peaks; however, noise estimations in SNR calculation are often inaccurate in either time or wavelet domain. In this article, we propose new algorithms to solve these problems. First, we use bivariate shrinkage estimator in stationary wavelet domain to avoid removing true peaks in denoising step. Second, without baseline removal, zero-crossing lines in multi-scale of derivative Gaussian wavelets are investigated with mixture of Gaussian to estimate discriminative parameters of peaks. Third, in quantification step, the frequency, SD, height and rank of peaks are used to detect both high and small energy peaks with robustness to noise.
Results: We propose a novel Gaussian Derivative Wavelet (GDWavelet) method to more accurately detect true peaks with a lower false discovery rate than existing methods. The proposed GDWavelet method has been performed on the real Surface-Enhanced Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight (SELDI-TOF) spectrum with known polypeptide positions and on two synthetic data with Gaussian and real noise. All experimental results demonstrate that our method outperforms other commonly used methods. The standard receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves are used to evaluate the experimental results.
Availability:∼heng/MS/GDWavelet.html or
PMCID: PMC2935426  PMID: 20823336

Results 1-7 (7)