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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Integrative analysis of gene expression and copy number alterations using canonical correlation analysis

Charlotte Soneson1*, Henrik Lilljebjörn2, Thoas Fioretos2 and Magnus Fontes1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Lund University, Box 118, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Genetics, Lund University Hospital, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden

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BMC Bioinformatics 2010, 11:191  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-191

Published: 15 April 2010

Abstract

Background

With the rapid development of new genetic measurement methods, several types of genetic alterations can be quantified in a high-throughput manner. While the initial focus has been on investigating each data set separately, there is an increasing interest in studying the correlation structure between two or more data sets. Multivariate methods based on Canonical Correlation Analysis (CCA) have been proposed for integrating paired genetic data sets. The high dimensionality of microarray data imposes computational difficulties, which have been addressed for instance by studying the covariance structure of the data, or by reducing the number of variables prior to applying the CCA. In this work, we propose a new method for analyzing high-dimensional paired genetic data sets, which mainly emphasizes the correlation structure and still permits efficient application to very large data sets. The method is implemented by translating a regularized CCA to its dual form, where the computational complexity depends mainly on the number of samples instead of the number of variables. The optimal regularization parameters are chosen by cross-validation. We apply the regularized dual CCA, as well as a classical CCA preceded by a dimension-reducing Principal Components Analysis (PCA), to a paired data set of gene expression changes and copy number alterations in leukemia.

Results

Using the correlation-maximizing methods, regularized dual CCA and PCA+CCA, we show that without pre-selection of known disease-relevant genes, and without using information about clinical class membership, an exploratory analysis singles out two patient groups, corresponding to well-known leukemia subtypes. Furthermore, the variables showing the highest relevance to the extracted features agree with previous biological knowledge concerning copy number alterations and gene expression changes in these subtypes. Finally, the correlation-maximizing methods are shown to yield results which are more biologically interpretable than those resulting from a covariance-maximizing method, and provide different insight compared to when each variable set is studied separately using PCA.

Conclusions

We conclude that regularized dual CCA as well as PCA+CCA are useful methods for exploratory analysis of paired genetic data sets, and can be efficiently implemented also when the number of variables is very large.