Comparative analysis of biologically relevant response curves in gene expression experiments: heteromorphy, heterochrony, and heterometry.
Date: 2014 Feb 14
Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): BRG
PMC ID: not available
Abstract: To gain biological insights, investigators sometimes compare sequences of gene expression measurements under two scenarios (such as two drugs or species). For this situation, we developed an algorithm to fit, identify, and compare biologically relevant response curves in terms of heteromorphy (different curves), heterochrony (different transition times), and heterometry (different magnitudes). The curves are flat, linear, sigmoid, hockey-stick (sigmoid missing a steady state), transient (sigmoid missing two steady states), impulse (with peak or trough), step (with intermediate-level plateau), impulse+ (impulse with an extra parameter), step+ (step with an extra parameter), further characterized by upward or downward trend. To reduce overfitting, we fit the curves to every other response, evaluated the fit in the remaining responses, and identified the most parsimonious curves that yielded a good fit. We measured goodness of fit using a statistic comparable over different genes, namely the square root of the mean squared prediction error as a percentage of the range of responses, which we call the relative prediction error (RPE). We illustrated the algorithm using data on gene expression at 14 times in the embryonic development in two species of frogs. Software written in Mathematica is freely available.