AUCTSP: An improved biomarker gene pair class predictor

Dimitri Kagaris, Alireza Khamesipour, Constantin T. Yiannoutsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background: The Top Scoring Pair (TSP) classifier, based on the concept of relative ranking reversals in the expressions of pairs of genes, has been proposed as a simple, accurate, and easily interpretable decision rule for classification and class prediction of gene expression profiles. The idea that differences in gene expression ranking are associated with presence or absence of disease is compelling and has strong biological plausibility. Nevertheless, the TSP formulation ignores significant available information which can improve classification accuracy and is vulnerable to selecting genes which do not have differential expression in the two conditions ("pivot" genes). Results: We introduce the AUCTSP classifier as an alternative rank-based estimator of the magnitude of the ranking reversals involved in the original TSP. The proposed estimator is based on the Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve (AUC) and as such, takes into account the separation of the entire distribution of gene expression levels in gene pairs under the conditions considered, as opposed to comparing gene rankings within individual subjects as in the original TSP formulation. Through extensive simulations and case studies involving classification in ovarian, leukemia, colon, breast and prostate cancers and diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, we show the superiority of the proposed approach in terms of improving classification accuracy, avoiding overfitting and being less prone to selecting non-informative (pivot) genes. Conclusions: The proposed AUCTSP is a simple yet reliable and robust rank-based classifier for gene expression classification. While the AUCTSP works by the same principle as TSP, its ability to determine the top scoring gene pair based on the relative rankings of two marker genes across all subjects as opposed to each individual subject results in significant performance gains in classification accuracy. In addition, the proposed method tends to avoid selection of non-informative (pivot) genes as members of the top-scoring pair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number244
JournalBMC bioinformatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 26 2018


  • AUC
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Diffuse large B-Cell lymphoma
  • Gene expression
  • Gene selection
  • Leukemia
  • Microarray data analysis
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics

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