BMC Bioinformatics (Aug 2008)

Very Important Pool (VIP) genes – an application for microarray-based molecular signatures

  • Perkins Roger,
  • Shi Leming,
  • Fang Hong,
  • Hong Huixiao,
  • Su Zhenqiang,
  • Tong Weida

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. Suppl 9
p. S9


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Abstract Background Advances in DNA microarray technology portend that molecular signatures from which microarray will eventually be used in clinical environments and personalized medicine. Derivation of biomarkers is a large step beyond hypothesis generation and imposes considerably more stringency for accuracy in identifying informative gene subsets to differentiate phenotypes. The inherent nature of microarray data, with fewer samples and replicates compared to the large number of genes, requires identifying informative genes prior to classifier construction. However, improving the ability to identify differentiating genes remains a challenge in bioinformatics. Results A new hybrid gene selection approach was investigated and tested with nine publicly available microarray datasets. The new method identifies a Very Important Pool (VIP) of genes from the broad patterns of gene expression data. The method uses a bagging sampling principle, where the re-sampled arrays are used to identify the most informative genes. Frequency of selection is used in a repetitive process to identify the VIP genes. The putative informative genes are selected using two methods, t-statistic and discriminatory analysis. In the t-statistic, the informative genes are identified based on p-values. In the discriminatory analysis, disjoint Principal Component Analyses (PCAs) are conducted for each class of samples, and genes with high discrimination power (DP) are identified. The VIP gene selection approach was compared with the p-value ranking approach. The genes identified by the VIP method but not by the p-value ranking approach are also related to the disease investigated. More importantly, these genes are part of the pathways derived from the common genes shared by both the VIP and p-ranking methods. Moreover, the binary classifiers built from these genes are statistically equivalent to those built from the top 50 p-value ranked genes in distinguishing different types of samples. Conclusion The VIP gene selection approach could identify additional subsets of informative genes that would not always be selected by the p-value ranking method. These genes are likely to be additional true positives since they are a part of pathways identified by the p-value ranking method and expected to be related to the relevant biology. Therefore, these additional genes derived from the VIP method potentially provide valuable biological insights.