Binary state pattern clustering: a digital paradigm for class and biomarker discovery in gene microarray studies of cancer

J Comput Biol. 2006 Jun;13(5):1114-30. doi: 10.1089/cmb.2006.13.1114.


Class and biomarker discovery continue to be among the preeminent goals in gene microarray studies of cancer. We have developed a new data mining technique, which we call Binary State Pattern Clustering (BSPC) that is specifically adapted for these purposes, with cancer and other categorical datasets. BSPC is capable of uncovering statistically significant sample subclasses and associated marker genes in a completely unsupervised manner. This is accomplished through the application of a digital paradigm, where the expression level of each potential marker gene is treated as being representative of its discrete functional state. Multiple genes that divide samples into states along the same boundaries form a kind of gene-cluster that has an associated sample-cluster. BSPC is an extremely fast deterministic algorithm that scales well to large datasets. Here we describe results of its application to three publicly available oligonucleotide microarray datasets. Using an alpha-level of 0.05, clusters reproducing many of the known sample classifications were identified along with associated biomarkers. In addition, a number of simulations were conducted using shuffled versions of each of the original datasets, noise-added datasets, as well as completely artificial datasets. The robustness of BSPC was compared to that of three other publicly available clustering methods: ISIS, CTWC and SAMBA. The simulations demonstrate BSPC's substantially greater noise tolerance and confirm the accuracy of our calculations of statistical significance.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Genes, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor