Extracting gene networks for low-dose radiation using graph theoretical algorithms.

Document Type


Publication Date



Animals, Cell-Line, Computational-Biology, Computer-Simulation, Dose-Response-Relationship-Radiation, Gene-Expression-Regulation, Humans, Mice, Oligonucleotide-Array-Sequence-Analysis, Proteins, Radiation-Dosage, Radiation-Ionizing

JAX Source

PLoS Comput Biol 2006 Jul; 2(7):e89.


Genes with common functions often exhibit correlated expression levels, which can be used to identify sets of interacting genes from microarray data. Microarrays typically measure expression across genomic space, creating a massive matrix of co-expression that must be mined to extract only the most relevant gene interactions. We describe a graph theoretical approach to extracting co-expressed sets of genes, based on the computation of cliques. Unlike the results of traditional clustering algorithms, cliques are not disjoint and allow genes to be assigned to multiple sets of interacting partners, consistent with biological reality. A graph is created by thresholding the correlation matrix to include only the correlations most likely to signify functional relationships. Cliques computed from the graph correspond to sets of genes for which significant edges are present between all members of the set, representing potential members of common or interacting pathways. Clique membership can be used to infer function about poorly annotated genes, based on the known functions of better-annotated genes with which they share clique membership (i.e., "guilt-by-association"). We illustrate our method by applying it to microarray data collected from the spleens of mice exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation. Differential analysis is used to identify sets of genes whose interactions are impacted by radiation exposure. The correlation graph is also queried independently of clique to extract edges that are impacted by radiation. We present several examples of multiple gene interactions that are altered by radiation exposure and thus represent potential molecular pathways that mediate the radiation response.