Statistical Detection of Intrinsically Multivariate Predictive Genes.
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Canalizing genes possess broad regulatory power over a wide swath of regulatory processes. On the other hand, it has been hypothesized that the phenomenon of intrinsically multivariate prediction (IMP) is associated with canalization. However, applications have relied on user-selectable thresholds on the IMP score to decide on the presence of IMP. A methodology is developed here that avoids arbitrary thresholds, by providing a statistical test for the IMP score. In addition, the proposed procedure allows the incorporation of prior knowledge if available, which can alleviate the problem of loss of power due to small sample sizes. The issue of multiplicity of tests is addressed by family-wise error rate (FWER) and false discovery rate (FDR) controlling approaches. The proposed methodology is demonstrated by experiments using synthetic and real gene-expression data from studies on melanoma and ionizing radiation (IR) responsive genes. The results with the real data identified DUSP1 and p53, two well-known canalizing genes associated with melanoma and IR response, respectively, as the genes with a clear majority of IMP predictor pairs. This validates the potential of the proposed methodology as a tool for discovery of canalizing genes from binary gene-expression data. The procedure is made available through an R package.