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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Individualized markers optimize class prediction of microarray data

Pavlos Pavlidis12 and Panayiota Poirazi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB), Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), Vassilika Vouton PO Box 1385, GR-71110, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

2 Department of Biology, University of Crete, PO Box 2208, GR-71409, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

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BMC Bioinformatics 2006, 7:345  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-345

Published: 14 July 2006



Identification of molecular markers for the classification of microarray data is a challenging task. Despite the evident dissimilarity in various characteristics of biological samples belonging to the same category, most of the marker – selection and classification methods do not consider this variability. In general, feature selection methods aim at identifying a common set of genes whose combined expression profiles can accurately predict the category of all samples. Here, we argue that this simplified approach is often unable to capture the complexity of a disease phenotype and we propose an alternative method that takes into account the individuality of each patient-sample.


Instead of using the same features for the classification of all samples, the proposed technique starts by creating a pool of informative gene-features. For each sample, the method selects a subset of these features whose expression profiles are most likely to accurately predict the sample's category. Different subsets are utilized for different samples and the outcomes are combined in a hierarchical framework for the classification of all samples. Moreover, this approach can innately identify subgroups of samples within a given class which share common feature sets thus highlighting the effect of individuality on gene expression.


In addition to high classification accuracy, the proposed method offers a more individualized approach for the identification of biological markers, which may help in better understanding the molecular background of a disease and emphasize the need for more flexible medical interventions.