Grouping miRNAs of similar functions via weighted information content of gene ontology

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Bioinformatics, 2016, 17
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© 2016 The Author(s). Background: Regulation mechanisms between miRNAs and genes are complicated. To accomplish a biological function, a miRNA may regulate multiple target genes, and similarly a target gene may be regulated by multiple miRNAs. Wet-lab knowledge of co-regulating miRNAs is limited. This work introduces a computational method to group miRNAs of similar functions to identify co-regulating miRNAsfrom a similarity matrix of miRNAs. Results: We define a novel information content of gene ontology (GO) to measure similarity between two sets of GO graphs corresponding to the two sets of target genes of two miRNAs. This between-graph similarity is then transferred as a functional similarity between the two miRNAs. Our definition of the information content is based on the size of a GO term's descendants, but adjusted by a weight derived from its depth level and the GO relationships at its path to the root node or to the most informative common ancestor (MICA). Further, a self-tuning technique and the eigenvalues of the normalized Laplacian matrix are applied to determine the optimal parameters for the spectral clustering of the similarity matrix of the miRNAs. Conclusions: Experimental results demonstrate that our method has better clustering performance than the existing edge-based, node-based or hybrid methods. Our method has also demonstrated a novel usefulness for the function annotation of new miRNAs, as reported in the detailed case studies.
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