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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science; Center for Data Sciences


Despite their important roles, the regulators for most metabolic pathways and biological processes remain elusive. Presently, the methods for identifying metabolic pathway and biological process regulators are intensively sought after. We developed a novel algorithm called triple-gene mutual interaction (TGMI) for identifying these regulators using high-throughput gene expression data. It first calculated the regulatory interactions among triple gene blocks (two pathway genes and one transcription factor (TF)), using conditional mutual information, and then identifies significantly interacted triple genes using a newly identified novel mutual interaction measure (MIM), which was substantiated to reflect strengths of regulatory interactions within each triple gene block. The TGMI calculated the MIM for each triple gene block and then examined its statistical significance using bootstrap. Finally, the frequencies of all TFs present in all significantly interacted triple gene blocks were calculated and ranked. We showed that the TFs with higher frequencies were usually genuine pathway regulators upon evaluating multiple pathways in plants, animals and yeast. Comparison of TGMI with several other algorithms demonstrated its higher accuracy. Therefore, TGMI will be a valuable tool that can help biologists to identify regulators of metabolic pathways and biological processes from the exploded high-throughput gene expression data in public repositories.

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©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research. Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher's version of record:

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Nucleic Acids Research

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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