An Independent Filter for Gene Set Testing Based on Spectral Enrichment

H Robert Frost, Zhigang Li, Folkert W Asselbergs, Jason H Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gene set testing has become an indispensable tool for the analysis of high-dimensional genomic data. An important motivation for testing gene sets, rather than individual genomic variables, is to improve statistical power by reducing the number of tested hypotheses. Given the dramatic growth in common gene set collections, however, testing is often performed with nearly as many gene sets as underlying genomic variables. To address the challenge to statistical power posed by large gene set collections, we have developed spectral gene set filtering (SGSF), a novel technique for independent filtering of gene set collections prior to gene set testing. The SGSF method uses as a filter statistic the p-value measuring the statistical significance of the association between each gene set and the sample principal components (PCs), taking into account the significance of the associated eigenvalues. Because this filter statistic is independent of standard gene set test statistics under the null hypothesis but dependent under the alternative, the proportion of enriched gene sets is increased without impacting the type I error rate. As shown using simulated and real gene expression data, the SGSF algorithm accurately filters gene sets unrelated to the experimental outcome resulting in significantly increased gene set testing power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-86
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE/ACM transactions on computational biology and bioinformatics / IEEE, ACM
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2015


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