BRANE Clust: Cluster-Assisted Gene Regulatory Network Inference Refinement

IEEE/ACM Trans Comput Biol Bioinform. 2018 May-Jun;15(3):850-860. doi: 10.1109/TCBB.2017.2688355. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Discovering meaningful gene interactions is crucial for the identification of novel regulatory processes in cells. Building accurately the related graphs remains challenging due to the large number of possible solutions from available data. Nonetheless, enforcing a priori on the graph structure, such as modularity, may reduce network indeterminacy issues. BRANE Clust (Biologically-Related A priori Network Enhancement with Clustering) refines gene regulatory network (GRN) inference thanks to cluster information. It works as a post-processing tool for inference methods (i.e., CLR, GENIE3). In BRANE Clust, the clustering is based on the inversion of a system of linear equations involving a graph-Laplacian matrix promoting a modular structure. Our approach is validated on DREAM4 and DREAM5 datasets with objective measures, showing significant comparative improvements. We provide additional insights on the discovery of novel regulatory or co-expressed links in the inferred Escherichia coli network evaluated using the STRING database. The comparative pertinence of clustering is discussed computationally (SIMoNe, WGCNA, X-means) and biologically (RegulonDB). BRANE Clust software is available at:

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cluster Analysis*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Software