Journal Article

Estimating replicate time shifts using Gaussian process regression

Qiang Liu, Kevin K. Lin, Bogi Andersen, Padhraic Smyth and Alexander Ihler

in Bioinformatics

Volume 26, issue 6, pages 770-776
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 1367-4803
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1460-2059 | DOI:
Estimating replicate time shifts using Gaussian process regression

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Motivation: Time-course gene expression datasets provide important insights into dynamic aspects of biological processes, such as circadian rhythms, cell cycle and organ development. In a typical microarray time-course experiment, measurements are obtained at each time point from multiple replicate samples. Accurately recovering the gene expression patterns from experimental observations is made challenging by both measurement noise and variation among replicates' rates of development. Prior work on this topic has focused on inference of expression patterns assuming that the replicate times are synchronized. We develop a statistical approach that simultaneously infers both (i) the underlying (hidden) expression profile for each gene, as well as (ii) the biological time for each individual replicate. Our approach is based on Gaussian process regression (GPR) combined with a probabilistic model that accounts for uncertainty about the biological development time of each replicate.

Results: We apply GPR with uncertain measurement times to a microarray dataset of mRNA expression for the hair-growth cycle in mouse back skin, predicting both profile shapes and biological times for each replicate. The predicted time shifts show high consistency with independently obtained morphological estimates of relative development. We also show that the method systematically reduces prediction error on out-of-sample data, significantly reducing the mean squared error in a cross-validation study.

Availability: Matlab code for GPR with uncertain time shifts is available at


Journal Article.  5119 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

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