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      WGCNA: an R package for weighted correlation network analysis

      1 , 2 ,
      BMC Bioinformatics
      BioMed Central

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          Correlation networks are increasingly being used in bioinformatics applications. For example, weighted gene co-expression network analysis is a systems biology method for describing the correlation patterns among genes across microarray samples. Weighted correlation network analysis (WGCNA) can be used for finding clusters (modules) of highly correlated genes, for summarizing such clusters using the module eigengene or an intramodular hub gene, for relating modules to one another and to external sample traits (using eigengene network methodology), and for calculating module membership measures. Correlation networks facilitate network based gene screening methods that can be used to identify candidate biomarkers or therapeutic targets. These methods have been successfully applied in various biological contexts, e.g. cancer, mouse genetics, yeast genetics, and analysis of brain imaging data. While parts of the correlation network methodology have been described in separate publications, there is a need to provide a user-friendly, comprehensive, and consistent software implementation and an accompanying tutorial.


          The WGCNA R software package is a comprehensive collection of R functions for performing various aspects of weighted correlation network analysis. The package includes functions for network construction, module detection, gene selection, calculations of topological properties, data simulation, visualization, and interfacing with external software. Along with the R package we also present R software tutorials. While the methods development was motivated by gene expression data, the underlying data mining approach can be applied to a variety of different settings.


          The WGCNA package provides R functions for weighted correlation network analysis, e.g. co-expression network analysis of gene expression data. The R package along with its source code and additional material are freely available at http://www.genetics.ucla.edu/labs/horvath/CoexpressionNetwork/Rpackages/WGCNA.

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          Most cited references31

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          Genomic sequencing has made it clear that a large fraction of the genes specifying the core biological functions are shared by all eukaryotes. Knowledge of the biological role of such shared proteins in one organism can often be transferred to other organisms. The goal of the Gene Ontology Consortium is to produce a dynamic, controlled vocabulary that can be applied to all eukaryotes even as knowledge of gene and protein roles in cells is accumulating and changing. To this end, three independent ontologies accessible on the World-Wide Web (http://www.geneontology.org) are being constructed: biological process, molecular function and cellular component.
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            DAVID: Database for Annotation, Visualization, and Integrated Discovery.

            Functional annotation of differentially expressed genes is a necessary and critical step in the analysis of microarray data. The distributed nature of biological knowledge frequently requires researchers to navigate through numerous web-accessible databases gathering information one gene at a time. A more judicious approach is to provide query-based access to an integrated database that disseminates biologically rich information across large datasets and displays graphic summaries of functional information. Database for Annotation, Visualization, and Integrated Discovery (DAVID; http://www.david.niaid.nih.gov) addresses this need via four web-based analysis modules: 1) Annotation Tool - rapidly appends descriptive data from several public databases to lists of genes; 2) GoCharts - assigns genes to Gene Ontology functional categories based on user selected classifications and term specificity level; 3) KeggCharts - assigns genes to KEGG metabolic processes and enables users to view genes in the context of biochemical pathway maps; and 4) DomainCharts - groups genes according to PFAM conserved protein domains. Analysis results and graphical displays remain dynamically linked to primary data and external data repositories, thereby furnishing in-depth as well as broad-based data coverage. The functionality provided by DAVID accelerates the analysis of genome-scale datasets by facilitating the transition from data collection to biological meaning.
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              A gene-coexpression network for global discovery of conserved genetic modules.

              To elucidate gene function on a global scale, we identified pairs of genes that are coexpressed over 3182 DNA microarrays from humans, flies, worms, and yeast. We found 22,163 such coexpression relationships, each of which has been conserved across evolution. This conservation implies that the coexpression of these gene pairs confers a selective advantage and therefore that these genes are functionally related. Many of these relationships provide strong evidence for the involvement of new genes in core biological functions such as the cell cycle, secretion, and protein expression. We experimentally confirmed the predictions implied by some of these links and identified cell proliferation functions for several genes. By assembling these links into a gene-coexpression network, we found several components that were animal-specific as well as interrelationships between newly evolved and ancient modules.

                Author and article information

                BMC Bioinformatics
                BMC Bioinformatics
                BioMed Central
                29 December 2008
                : 9
                : 559
                [1 ]Department of Human Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
                [2 ]Department of Human Genetics and Department of Biostatistics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
                Copyright © 2008 Langfelder and Horvath; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 24 July 2008
                : 29 December 2008

                Bioinformatics & Computational biology
                Bioinformatics & Computational biology


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