Ranking, selecting, and prioritising genes with desirability functions

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Authors Stanley E. Lazic, Mikhail Spivakov
Journal/Conference Name PeerJ
Paper Category
Paper Abstract In functional genomics experiments, researchers often select genes to follow-up or validate from a long list of differentially expressed genes. Typically, sharp thresholds are used to bin genes into groups such as significant/non-significant or fold change above/below a cut-off value, and ad hoc criteria are also used such as favouring well-known genes. Binning, however, is inefficient and does not take the uncertainty of the measurements into account. Furthermore, p-values, fold-changes, and other outcomes are treated as equally important, and relevant genes may be overlooked with such an approach. Desirability functions are proposed as a way to integrate multiple selection criteria for ranking, selecting, and prioritising genes. These functions map any variable to a continuous 0-1 scale, where one is maximally desirable and zero is unacceptable. Multiple selection criteria are then combined to provide an overall desirability that is used to rank genes. In addition to p-values and fold-changes, further experimental results and information contained in databases can be easily included as criteria. The approach is demonstrated with a breast cancer microarray data set. The functions and an example data set can be found in the desiR package on CRAN (https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/desiR/) and the development version is available on GitHub (https://github.com/stanlazic/desiR).
Date of publication 2015
Code Programming Language R
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