A Network-Based Method to Assess the Statistical Significance of Mild Co-Regulation Effects

Emoke Ágnes Horvát, Jitaovid Da Zhang, Stefan Uhlmann, Özgür Sahin, Katharina Anna Zweig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent development of high-throughput, multiplexing technology has initiated projects that systematically investigate interactions between two types of components in biological networks, for instance transcription factors and promoter sequences, or microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs. In terms of network biology, such screening approaches primarily attempt to elucidate relations between biological components of two distinct types, which can be represented as edges between nodes in a bipartite graph. However, it is often desirable not only to determine regulatory relationships between nodes of different types, but also to understand the connection patterns of nodes of the same type. Especially interesting is the co-occurrence of two nodes of the same type, i.e., the number of their common neighbours, which current high-throughput screening analysis fails to address. The co-occurrence gives the number of circumstances under which both of the biological components are influenced in the same way. Here we present SICORE, a novel network-based method to detect pairs of nodes with a statistically significant co-occurrence. We first show the stability of the proposed method on artificial data sets: when randomly adding and deleting observations we obtain reliable results even with noise exceeding the expected level in large-scale experiments. Subsequently, we illustrate the viability of the method based on the analysis of a proteomic screening data set to reveal regulatory patterns of human microRNAs targeting proteins in the EGFR-driven cell cycle signalling system. Since statistically significant co-occurrence may indicate functional synergy and the mechanisms underlying canalization, and thus hold promise in drug target identification and therapeutic development, we provide a platform-independent implementation of SICORE with a graphical user interface as a novel tool in the arsenal of high-throughput screening analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73413
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 9 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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