Bayesian approaches to reverse engineer cellular systems: A simulation study on nonlinear Gaussian networks

Fulvia Ferrazzi, Paola Sebastiani, Marco F. Ramoni, Riccardo Bellazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Reverse engineering cellular networks is currently one of the most challenging problems in systems biology. Dynamic Bayesian networks (DBNs) seem to be particularly suitable for inferring relationships between cellular variables from the analysis of time series measurements of mRNA or protein concentrations. As evaluating inference results on a real dataset is controversial, the use of simulated data has been proposed. However, DBN approaches that use continuous variables, thus avoiding the information loss associated with discretization, have not yet been extensively assessed, and most of the proposed approaches have dealt with linear Gaussian models. Results: We propose a generalization of dynamic Gaussian networks to accommodate nonlinear dependencies between variables. As a benchmark dataset to test the new approach, we used data from a mathematical model of cell cycle control in budding yeast that realistically reproduces the complexity of a cellular system. We evaluated the ability of the networks to describe the dynamics of cellular systems and their precision in reconstructing the true underlying causal relationships between variables. We also tested the robustness of the results by analyzing the effect of noise on the data, and the impact of a different sampling time. Conclusion: The results confirmed that DBNs with Gaussian models can be effectively exploited for a first level analysis of data from complex cellular systems. The inferred models are parsimonious and have a satisfying goodness of fit. Furthermore, the networks not only offer a phenomenological description of the dynamics of cellular systems, but are also able to suggest hypotheses concerning the causal interactions between variables. The proposed nonlinear generalization of Gaussian models yielded models characterized by a slightly lower goodness of fit than the linear model, but a better ability to recover the true underlying connections between variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS2
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Volume8
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Structural Biology
  • Applied Mathematics

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