Gene set bagging for estimating replicability of gene set analyses

Gene set bagging for estimating replicability of gene set analyses
Andrew E. Jaffe, John D. Storey, Hongkai Ji, Jeffrey T. Leek
(Submitted on 16 Jan 2013)

Background: Significance analysis plays a major role in identifying and ranking genes, transcription factor binding sites, DNA methylation regions, and other high-throughput features for association with disease. We propose a new approach, called gene set bagging, for measuring the stability of ranking procedures using predefined gene sets. Gene set bagging involves resampling the original high-throughput data, performing gene-set analysis on the resampled data, and confirming that biological categories replicate. This procedure can be thought of as bootstrapping gene-set analysis and can be used to determine which are the most reproducible gene sets. Results: Here we apply this approach to two common genomics applications: gene expression and DNA methylation. Even with state-of-the-art statistical ranking procedures, significant categories in a gene set enrichment analysis may be unstable when subjected to resampling. Conclusions: We demonstrate that gene lists are not necessarily stable, and therefore additional steps like gene set bagging can improve biological inference of gene set analysis.

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