Interactogeneous: Disease Gene Prioritization Using Heterogeneous Networks and Full Topology Scores

Joana P. Goncalves, Alexandre P. Francisco, Yves Moreau, Sara C. Madeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Disease gene prioritization aims to suggest potential implications of genes in disease susceptibility. Often accomplished in a guilt-by-association scheme, promising candidates are sorted according to their relatedness to known disease genes. Network-based methods have been successfully exploiting this concept by capturing the interaction of genes or proteins into a score. Nonetheless, most current approaches yield at least some of the following limitations: (1) networks comprise only curated physical interactions leading to poor genome coverage and density, and bias toward a particular source; (2) scores focus on adjacencies (direct links) or the most direct paths (shortest paths) within a constrained neighborhood around the disease genes, ignoring potentially informative indirect paths; (3) global clustering is widely applied to partition the network in an unsupervised manner, attributing little importance to prior knowledge; (4) confidence weights and their contribution to edge differentiation and ranking reliability are often disregarded. We hypothesize that network-based prioritization related to local clustering on graphs and considering full topology of weighted gene association networks integrating heterogeneous sources should overcome the above challenges. We term such a strategy Interactogeneous. We conducted cross-validation tests to assess the impact of network sources, alternative path inclusion and confidence weights on the prioritization of putative genes for 29 diseases. Heat diffusion ranking proved the best prioritization method overall, increasing the gap to neighborhood and shortest paths scores mostly on single source networks. Heterogeneous associations consistently delivered superior performance over single source data across the majority of methods. Results on the contribution of confidence weights were inconclusive. Finally, the best Interactogeneous strategy, heat diffusion ranking and associations from the STRING database, was used to prioritize genes for Parkinson’s disease. This method effectively recovered known genes and uncovered interesting candidates which could be linked to pathogenic mechanisms of the disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

Cite this