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Evolutionary approaches for the reverse-engineering of gene regulatory networks: a study on a biologically realistic dataset.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Inferring gene regulatory networks from data requires the development of algorithms devoted to structure extraction. When only static data are available, gene interactions may be modelled by a Bayesian Network (BN) that represents the presence of direct interactions from regulators to regulees by conditional probability distributions. We used enhanced evolutionary algorithms to stochastically evolve a set of candidate BN structures and found the model that best fits data without prior knowledge. RESULTS: We proposed various evolutionary strategies suitable for the task and tested our choices using simulated data drawn from a given bio-realistic network of 35 nodes, the so-called insulin network, which has been used in the literature for benchmarking. We assessed the inferred models against this reference to obtain statistical performance results. We then compared performances of evolutionary algorithms using two kinds of recombination operators that operate at different scales in the graphs. We introduced a niching strategy that reinforces diversity through the population and avoided trapping of the algorithm in one local minimum in the early steps of learning. We show the limited effect of the mutation operator when niching is applied. Finally, we compared our best evolutionary approach with various well known learning algorithms (MCMC, K2, greedy search, TPDA, MMHC) devoted to BN structure learning. CONCLUSION: We studied the behaviour of an evolutionary approach enhanced by niching for the learning of gene regulatory networks with BN. We show that this approach outperforms classical structure learning methods in elucidating the original model. These results were obtained for the learning of a bio-realistic network and, more importantly, on various small datasets. This is a suitable approach for learning transcriptional regulatory networks from real datasets without prior knowledge.
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Cédric Auliac, Vincent Frouin, Xavier Gidrol, Florence d'Alché-Buc. Evolutionary approaches for the reverse-engineering of gene regulatory networks: a study on a biologically realistic dataset.. BMC Bioinformatics, BioMed Central, 2008, 9, pp.91. ⟨10.1186/1471-2105-9-91⟩. ⟨cea-00307649⟩

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