Network-guided key gene discovery for a given cellular process.
- Immune Systems Biology
- Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Identification of key genes for a given physiological or pathological process is an essential but still very challenging task for the entire biomedical research community. Statistics-based approaches, such as genome-wide association study (GWAS)- or quantitative trait locus (QTL)-related analysis have already made enormous contributions to identifying key genes associated with a given disease or phenotype, the success of which is however very much dependent on a huge number of samples. Recent advances in network biology, especially network inference directly from genome-scale data and the following-up network analysis, opens up new avenues to predict key genes driving a given biological process or cellular function. Here we review and compare the current approaches in predicting key genes, which have no chances to stand out by classic differential expression analysis, from gene-regulatory, protein-protein interaction, or gene expression correlation networks. We elaborate these network-based approaches mainly in the context of immunology and infection, and urge more usage of correlation network-based predictions. Such network-based key gene discovery approaches driven by information-enriched 'omics' data should be very useful for systematic key gene discoveries for any given biochemical process or cellular function, and also valuable for novel drug target discovery and novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic-efficiency marker prediction for a specific disease or disorder.