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Open Access Research article

caCORRECT2: Improving the accuracy and reliability of microarray data in the presence of artifacts

Richard A Moffitt1, Qiqin Yin-Goen2, Todd H Stokes1, R Mitchell Parry1, James H Torrance1, John H Phan1, Andrew N Young2 and May D Wang134*

Author Affiliations

1 The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, 313 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA, 30332, USA

2 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Health System, Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA

3 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA

4 Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12:383  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-383

Published: 29 September 2011

Abstract

Background

In previous work, we reported the development of caCORRECT, a novel microarray quality control system built to identify and correct spatial artifacts commonly found on Affymetrix arrays. We have made recent improvements to caCORRECT, including the development of a model-based data-replacement strategy and integration with typical microarray workflows via caCORRECT's web portal and caBIG grid services. In this report, we demonstrate that caCORRECT improves the reproducibility and reliability of experimental results across several common Affymetrix microarray platforms. caCORRECT represents an advance over state-of-art quality control methods such as Harshlighting, and acts to improve gene expression calculation techniques such as PLIER, RMA and MAS5.0, because it incorporates spatial information into outlier detection as well as outlier information into probe normalization. The ability of caCORRECT to recover accurate gene expressions from low quality probe intensity data is assessed using a combination of real and synthetic artifacts with PCR follow-up confirmation and the affycomp spike in data. The caCORRECT tool can be accessed at the website: http://cacorrect.bme.gatech.edu webcite.

Results

We demonstrate that (1) caCORRECT's artifact-aware normalization avoids the undesirable global data warping that happens when any damaged chips are processed without caCORRECT; (2) When used upstream of RMA, PLIER, or MAS5.0, the data imputation of caCORRECT generally improves the accuracy of microarray gene expression in the presence of artifacts more than using Harshlighting or not using any quality control; (3) Biomarkers selected from artifactual microarray data which have undergone the quality control procedures of caCORRECT are more likely to be reliable, as shown by both spike in and PCR validation experiments. Finally, we present a case study of the use of caCORRECT to reliably identify biomarkers for renal cell carcinoma, yielding two diagnostic biomarkers with potential clinical utility, PRKAB1 and NNMT.

Conclusions

caCORRECT is shown to improve the accuracy of gene expression, and the reproducibility of experimental results in clinical application. This study suggests that caCORRECT will be useful to clean up possible artifacts in new as well as archived microarray data.