Statistical inference of transcriptional module-based gene networks from time course gene expression profiles by using state space models

Bioinformatics. 2008 Apr 1;24(7):932-42. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btm639. Epub 2008 Feb 21.


Motivation: Statistical inference of gene networks by using time-course microarray gene expression profiles is an essential step towards understanding the temporal structure of gene regulatory mechanisms. Unfortunately, most of the current studies have been limited to analysing a small number of genes because the length of time-course gene expression profiles is fairly short. One promising approach to overcome such a limitation is to infer gene networks by exploring the potential transcriptional modules which are sets of genes sharing a common function or involved in the same pathway.

Results: In this article, we present a novel approach based on the state space model to identify the transcriptional modules and module-based gene networks simultaneously. The state space model has the potential to infer large-scale gene networks, e.g. of order 10(3), from time-course gene expression profiles. Particularly, we succeeded in the identification of a cell cycle system by using the gene expression profiles of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in which the length of the time-course and number of genes were 24 and 4382, respectively. However, when analysing shorter time-course data, e.g. of length 10 or less, the parameter estimations of the state space model often fail due to overfitting. To extend the applicability of the state space model, we provide an approach to use the technical replicates of gene expression profiles, which are often measured in duplicate or triplicate. The use of technical replicates is important for achieving highly-efficient inferences of gene networks with short time-course data. The potential of the proposed method has been demonstrated through the time-course analysis of the gene expression profiles of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) undergoing growth factor deprivation-induced apoptosis.

Availability: Supplementary Information and the software (TRANS-MNET) are available at

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Computer Simulation
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors