Statistics and Its Interface

Volume 5 (2012)

Number 1

Statistical methods for proteomic biomarker discovery based on feature extraction or functional modeling approaches

Pages: 117 – 135



Jeffrey S. Morris (M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, Houston, Tx., U.S.A.)


In recent years, developments in molecular biotechnology have led to the increased promise of detecting and validating biomarkers, or molecular markers that relate to various biological or medical outcomes. Proteomics, the direct study of proteins in biological samples, plays an important role in the biomarker discovery process. These technologies produce complex, high dimensional functional and image data that present many analytical challenges that must be addressed properly for effective comparative proteomics studies that can yield potential biomarkers. Specific challenges include experimental design, preprocessing, feature extraction, and statistical analysis accounting for the inherent multiple testing issues. This paper reviews various computational aspects of comparative proteomic studies, and summarizes contributions I along with numerous collaborators have made. First, there is an overview of comparative proteomics technologies, followed by a discussion of important experimental design and preprocessing issues that must be considered before statistical analysis can be done. Next, the two key approaches to analyzing proteomics data, feature extraction and functional modeling, are described. Feature extraction involves detection and quantification of discrete features like peaks or spots that theoretically correspond to different proteins in the sample. After an overview of the feature extraction approach, specific methods for mass spectrometry (Cromwell ) and 2D gel electrophoresis (Pinnacle) are described. The functional modeling approach involves modeling the proteomic data in their entirety as functions or images. A general discussion of the approach is followed by the presentation of a specific method that can be applied, wavelet-based functional mixed models, and its extensions. All methods are illustrated by application to two example proteomic data sets, one from mass spectrometry and one from 2D gel electrophoresis. While the specific methods presented are applied to two specific proteomic technologies, MALDI-TOF and 2D gel electrophoresis, these methods and the other principles discussed in the paper apply much more broadly to other expression proteomics technologies.


Keywords and phrases: Bayesian methods, biomarkers, classification, false discovery rate, functional data analysis, functional mixed models, MALDI-TOF, mass spectrometry, multiple testing, nonparametric regression, proteomics, reproducibility, robust regression, wavelets, 2D gel electrophoresis

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