An evaluation of a system that recommends microarray experiments to perform to discover gene-regulation pathways

Yoo C, Cooper GF. An evaluation of a system that recommends microarray experiments to perform to discover gene-regulation pathways. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 31 (2004) 169-182.  PMID:  1529293

The main topic of this paper is modeling the expected value of experimentation (EVE) for discovering causal pathways in gene expression data. By experimentation we mean both interventions (e.g., a gene knockout experiment) and observations (e.g., passively observing the expression level of a “wild-type” gene). We introduce a system called GEEVE (causal discovery in Gene Expression data using Expected Value of Experimentation), which implements expected value of experimentation in discovering causal pathways using gene expression data. GEEVE provides the following assistance, which is intended to help biologists in their quest to discover gene-regulation pathways:

Recommending which experiments to perform (with a focus on “knockout” experiments) using an expected value of experimentation method.

Recommending the number of measurements (observational and experimental) to include in the experimental design, again using an EVE method.

Providing a Bayesian analysis that combines prior knowledge with the results of recent microarray experimental results to derive posterior probabilities of gene regulation relationships.


In recommending which experiments to perform (and how many times to repeat them) the EVE approach considers the biologist’s preferences for which genes to focus the discovery process. Also, since exact EVE calculations are exponential in time, GEEVE incorporates approximation methods. GEEVE is able to combine data from knockout experiments with data from wild-type experiments to suggest additional experiments to perform and then to analyze the results of those microarray experimental results. It models the possibility that unmeasured (latent) variables may be responsible for some of the statistical associations among the expression levels of the genes under study.

To evaluate the GEEVE system, we used a gene expression simulator to generate data from specified models of gene regulation. The results show that the GEEVE system gives better results than two recently published approaches (1) in learning the generating models of gene regulation and (2) in recommending experiments to perform.


  • Causal discovery;
  • Systems biology;
  • Causal Bayesian networks;
  • Microarray study design
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Yoo C, Cooper GF.
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