An Overview of NCA-Based Algorithms for Transcriptional Regulatory Network Inference.
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In systems biology, the regulation of gene expressions involves a complex network of regulators. Transcription factors (TFs) represent an important component of this network: they are proteins that control which genes are turned on or off in the genome by binding to specific DNA sequences. Transcription regulatory networks (TRNs) describe gene expressions as a function of regulatory inputs specified by interactions between proteins and DNA. A complete understanding of TRNs helps to predict a variety of biological processes and to diagnose, characterize and eventually develop more efficient therapies. Recent advances in biological high-throughput technologies, such as DNA microarray data and next-generation sequence (NGS) data, have made the inference of transcription factor activities (TFAs) and TF-gene regulations possible. Network component analysis (NCA) represents an efficient computational framework for TRN inference from the information provided by microarrays, ChIP-on-chip and the prior information about TF-gene regulation. However, NCA suffers from several shortcomings. Recently, several algorithms based on the NCA framework have been proposed to overcome these shortcomings. This paper first overviews the computational principles behind NCA, and then, it surveys the state-of-the-art NCA-based algorithms proposed in the literature for TRN reconstruction.