NPA: an R package for computing network perturbation amplitudes using gene expression data and two-layer networks


Authored by  F Martin, S Gubian, M Talikka, J Hoeng, M Peitsch

Published in BMC Bioinformatics    

Abstract

Background

High-throughput gene expression technologies provide complex datasets reflecting mechanisms perturbed in an experiment, typically in a treatment versus control design. Analysis of these information-rich data can be guided based on a priori knowledge, such as networks of related proteins or genes. Assessing the response of a specific mechanism and investigating its biological basis is extremely important in systems toxicology; as compounds or treatment need to be assessed with respect to a predefined set of key mechanisms that could lead to toxicity. Two-layer networks are suitable for this task, and a robust computational methodology specifically addressing those needs was previously published.

The NPA package (https://github.com/philipmorrisintl/NPA) implements the algorithm, and a data package of eight two-layer networks representing key mechanisms, such as xenobiotic metabolism, apoptosis, or epithelial immune innate activation, is provided.

Results
Gene expression data from an animal study are analyzed using the package and its network models. The functionalities are implemented using R6 classes, making the use of the package seamless and intuitive. The various network responses are analyzed using the leading node analysis, and an overall perturbation, called the Biological Impact Factor, is computed.

Conclusions

The NPA package implements the published network perturbation amplitude methodology and provides a set of two-layer networks encoded in the Biological Expression Language.