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PMINR: Pointwise Mutual Information-Based Network Regression – With Application to Studies of Lung Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Lin, Weiqiang 
Ji, Jiadong 
Zhu, Yuchen 
Li, Mingzhuo 
Zhao, Jinghua 


Complex diseases are believed to be the consequence of intracellular network(s) involving a range of factors. An improved understanding of a disease-predisposing biological network could lead to better identification of genes and pathways that confer disease risk and therefore inform drug development. The group difference in biological networks, as is often characterized by graphs of nodes and edges, is attributable to effects of these nodes and edges. Here we introduced pointwise mutual information (PMI) as a measure of the connection between a pair of nodes with either a linear relationship or nonlinear dependence. We then proposed a PMI-based network regression (PMINR) model to differentiate patterns of network changes (in node or edge) linking a disease outcome. Through simulation studies with various sample sizes and inter-node correlation structures, we showed that PMINR can accurately identify these changes with higher power than current methods and be robust to the network topology. Finally, we illustrated, with publicly available data on lung cancer and gene methylation data on aging and Alzheimer’s disease, an evaluation of the practical performance of PMINR. We concluded that PMI is able to capture the generic inter-node correlation pattern in biological networks, and PMINR is a powerful and efficient approach for biological network analysis.



Genetics, biological networks, pointwise mutual information, regression, lung cancer, Alzheimer’s disease

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Frontiers in Genetics

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Frontiers Media S.A.