Title: A system-level pathway-phenotype association analysis using synthetic feature random forest.
Authors: Pan, Qinxin; Hu, Ting; Malley, James D; Andrew, Angeline S; Karagas, Margaret R; Moore, Jason H
Published In Genet Epidemiol, (2014 Apr)
Abstract: As the cost of genome-wide genotyping decreases, the number of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has increased considerably. However, the transition from GWAS findings to the underlying biology of various phenotypes remains challenging. As a result, due to its system-level interpretability, pathway analysis has become a popular tool for gaining insights on the underlying biology from high-throughput genetic association data. In pathway analyses, gene sets representing particular biological processes are tested for significant associations with a given phenotype. Most existing pathway analysis approaches rely on single-marker statistics and assume that pathways are independent of each other. As biological systems are driven by complex biomolecular interactions, embracing the complex relationships between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and pathways needs to be addressed. To incorporate the complexity of gene-gene interactions and pathway-pathway relationships, we propose a system-level pathway analysis approach, synthetic feature random forest (SF-RF), which is designed to detect pathway-phenotype associations without making assumptions about the relationships among SNPs or pathways. In our approach, the genotypes of SNPs in a particular pathway are aggregated into a synthetic feature representing that pathway via Random Forest (RF). Multiple synthetic features are analyzed using RF simultaneously and the significance of a synthetic feature indicates the significance of the corresponding pathway. We further complement SF-RF with pathway-based Statistical Epistasis Network (SEN) analysis that evaluates interactions among pathways. By investigating the pathway SEN, we hope to gain additional insights into the genetic mechanisms contributing to the pathway-phenotype association. We apply SF-RF to a population-based genetic study of bladder cancer and further investigate the mechanisms that help explain the pathway-phenotype associations using SEN. The bladder cancer associated pathways we found are both consistent with existing biological knowledge and reveal novel and plausible hypotheses for future biological validations.
PubMed ID: 24535726
MeSH Terms: Epistasis, Genetic/genetics*; Genome-Wide Association Study; Genotype; Humans; Logistic Models; Models, Genetic*; Phenotype*; Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics; Reproducibility of Results; Urinary Bladder Neoplasms/genetics