Improving the measurement of semantic similarity between gene ontology terms and gene products: insights from an edge- and IC-based hybrid method.
Explicit comparisons based on the semantic similarity of Gene Ontology terms provide a quantitative way to measure the functional similarity between gene products and are widely applied in large-scale genomic research via integration with other models. Previously, we presented an edge-based method, Relative Specificity Similarity (RSS), which takes the global position of relevant terms into account. However, edge-based semantic similarity metrics are sensitive to the intrinsic structure of GO and simply consider terms at the same level in the ontology to be equally specific nodes, revealing the weaknesses that could be complemented using information content (IC).
Results and conclusions
Here, we used the IC-based nodes to improve RSS and proposed a new method, Hybrid Relative Specificity Similarity (HRSS). HRSS outperformed other methods in distinguishing true protein-protein interactions from false. HRSS values were divided into four different levels of confidence for protein interactions. In addition, HRSS was statistically the best at obtaining the highest average functional similarity among human-mouse orthologs. Both HRSS and the groupwise measure, simGIC, are superior in correlation with sequence and Pfam similarities. Because different measures are best suited for different circumstances, we compared two pairwise strategies, the maximum and the best-match average, in the evaluation. The former was more effective at inferring physical protein-protein interactions, and the latter at estimating the functional conservation of orthologs and analyzing the CESSM datasets. In conclusion, HRSS can be applied to different biological problems by quantifying the functional similarity between gene products. The algorithm HRSS was implemented in the C programming language, which is freely available from http://cmb.bnu.edu.cn/hrss.
Wu, X; Pang, E; Lin, K; Pei, Z-M
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