The last two years have seen the publication of three genome-wide gene expression studies of the fission yeast cell cycle. While these microarray papers largely agree on the main patterns of cell cycle-regulated transcription and its control, there are discrepancies with regard to the identity and numbers of periodically expressed genes. We present benchmark and reproducibility analyses showing that the main discrepancies do not reflect differences in the data themselves (microarray or synchronization methods seem to lead only to minor biases) but rather in the interpretation of the data. Our reanalysis of the three datasets reveals that combining all independent information leads to an improved identification of periodically expressed genes. These evaluations suggest that the available microarray data do not allow reliable identification of more than about 500 cell cycle-regulated genes. The temporal expression pattern of the top 500 periodically expressed genes is generally consistent across experiments and the three studies, together with our integrated analysis, provide a coherent and rich source of information on cell cycle-regulated gene expression in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The reanalysed datasets and other supplementary information are available from an accompanying website: http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/cellcycle/. We hope that this paper will resolve the apparent discrepancies between the previous studies and be useful both for wet-lab biologists and for theoretical scientists who wish to take advantage of the data for follow-up work.
Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.