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© 2013 Puniyani, Xing. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract or Description

Accurate inference of molecular and functional interactions among genes, especially in multicellular organisms such as Drosophila, often requires statistical analysis of correlations not only between the magnitudes of gene expressions, but also between their temporal-spatial patterns. The ISH (in-situ-hybridization)-based gene expression micro-imaging technology offers an effective approach to perform large-scale spatial-temporal profiling of whole-body mRNA abundance. However, analytical tools for discovering gene interactions from such data remain an open challenge due to various reasons, including difficulties in extracting canonical representations of gene activities from images, and in inference of statistically meaningful networks from such representations. In this paper, we present GINI, a machine learning system for inferring gene interaction networks from Drosophila embryonic ISH images. GINI builds on a computer-vision-inspired vector-space representation of the spatial pattern of gene expression in ISH images, enabled by our recently developed [Formula: see text] system; and a new multi-instance-kernel algorithm that learns a sparse Markov network model, in which, every gene (i.e., node) in the network is represented by a vector-valued spatial pattern rather than a scalar-valued gene intensity as in conventional approaches such as a Gaussian graphical model. By capturing the notion of spatial similarity of gene expression, and at the same time properly taking into account the presence of multiple images per gene via multi-instance kernels, GINI is well-positioned to infer statistically sound, and biologically meaningful gene interaction networks from image data. Using both synthetic data and a small manually curated data set, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in network building. Furthermore, we report results on a large publicly available collection of Drosophila embryonic ISH images from the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project, where GINI makes novel and interesting predictions of gene interactions. Software for GINI is available at



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Published In

PLoS Computational Biology, 9, 10, 1003227-1003227.