Generalized gene co-expression analysis via subspace clustering using low-rank representation

Tongxin Wang, Jie Zhang, Kun Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (GCNA) helps identify gene modules with potential biological functions and has become a popular method in bioinformatics and biomedical research. However, most current GCNA algorithms use correlation to build gene co-expression networks and identify modules with highly correlated genes. There is a need to look beyond correlation and identify gene modules using other similarity measures for finding novel biologically meaningful modules. Results: We propose a new generalized gene co-expression analysis algorithm via subspace clustering that can identify biologically meaningful gene co-expression modules with genes that are not all highly correlated. We use low-rank representation to construct gene co-expression networks and local maximal quasi-clique merger to identify gene co-expression modules. We applied our method on three large microarray datasets and a single-cell RNA sequencing dataset. We demonstrate that our method can identify gene modules with different biological functions than current GCNA methods and find gene modules with prognostic values. Conclusions: The presented method takes advantage of subspace clustering to generate gene co-expression networks rather than using correlation as the similarity measure between genes. Our generalized GCNA method can provide new insights from gene expression datasets and serve as a complement to current GCNA algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number196
JournalBMC bioinformatics
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Gene co-expression network analysis
  • Low-rank representation
  • Subspace clustering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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