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      WGCNA: an R package for weighted correlation network analysis

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      BMC Bioinformatics

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          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.

          Results

          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.

          Conclusion

          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 references 47

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          Gene ontology: tool for the unification of biology. The Gene Ontology Consortium.

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            Cytoscape: a software environment for integrated models of biomolecular interaction networks.

            Cytoscape is an open source software project for integrating biomolecular interaction networks with high-throughput expression data and other molecular states into a unified conceptual framework. Although applicable to any system of molecular components and interactions, Cytoscape is most powerful when used in conjunction with large databases of protein-protein, protein-DNA, and genetic interactions that are increasingly available for humans and model organisms. Cytoscape's software Core provides basic functionality to layout and query the network; to visually integrate the network with expression profiles, phenotypes, and other molecular states; and to link the network to databases of functional annotations. The Core is extensible through a straightforward plug-in architecture, allowing rapid development of additional computational analyses and features. Several case studies of Cytoscape plug-ins are surveyed, including a search for interaction pathways correlating with changes in gene expression, a study of protein complexes involved in cellular recovery to DNA damage, inference of a combined physical/functional interaction network for Halobacterium, and an interface to detailed stochastic/kinetic gene regulatory models.
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              Collective dynamics of 'small-world' networks.

              Networks of coupled dynamical systems have been used to model biological oscillators, Josephson junction arrays, excitable media, neural networks, spatial games, genetic control networks and many other self-organizing systems. Ordinarily, the connection topology is assumed to be either completely regular or completely random. But many biological, technological and social networks lie somewhere between these two extremes. Here we explore simple models of networks that can be tuned through this middle ground: regular networks 'rewired' to introduce increasing amounts of disorder. We find that these systems can be highly clustered, like regular lattices, yet have small characteristic path lengths, like random graphs. We call them 'small-world' networks, by analogy with the small-world phenomenon (popularly known as six degrees of separation. The neural network of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the power grid of the western United States, and the collaboration graph of film actors are shown to be small-world networks. Models of dynamical systems with small-world coupling display enhanced signal-propagation speed, computational power, and synchronizability. In particular, infectious diseases spread more easily in small-world networks than in regular lattices.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [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
                Contributors
                Journal
                BMC Bioinformatics
                BMC Bioinformatics
                BioMed Central
                1471-2105
                2008
                29 December 2008
                : 9
                : 559
                2631488
                1471-2105-9-559
                19114008
                10.1186/1471-2105-9-559
                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.

                Categories
                Software

                Bioinformatics & Computational biology

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