Gene co-expression networks are powerful tools to understand functional interactions between genes. However, large co-expression networks are difficult to interpret and do not guarantee that the relations found will be true for different genotypes. Statistically verified time expression profiles give information about significant changes in expressions through time, and genes with highly correlated time expression profiles, which are annotated in the same biological process, are likely to be functionally connected. A method to obtain robust networks of functionally related genes will be useful to understand the complexity of the transcriptome, leading to biologically relevant insights. We present an algorithm to construct gene functional networks for genes annotated in a given biological process or other aspects of interest. We assume that there are genome-wide time expression profiles for a set of representative genotypes of the species of interest. The method is based on the correlation of time expression profiles, bound by a set of thresholds that assure both, a given false discovery rate, and the discard of correlation outliers. The novelty of the method consists in that a gene expression relation must be repeatedly found in a given set of independent genotypes to be considered valid. This automatically discards relations particular to specific genotypes, assuring a network robustness, which can be set a priori. Additionally, we present an algorithm to find transcription factors candidates for regulating hub genes within a network. The algorithms are demonstrated with data from a large experiment studying gene expression during the development of the fruit in a diverse set of chili pepper genotypes. The algorithm is implemented and demonstrated in a new version of the publicly available R package “Salsa” (version 1.0).
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© 2023 by the authors.
- fruit development
- gene expression
- time expression profile