Hypergraphs and centrality measures identifying key features in gene expression data

Barton S, Broad Z, Ortíz-Barrientos D, Donovan D and Lefevre JG

Mathematical Biosciences


Multidisciplinary approaches can significantly advance our understanding of complex systems. For instance, gene co-expression networks align prior knowledge of biological systems with studies in graph theory, emphasising pairwise gene to gene interactions. In this paper, we extend these ideas, promoting hypergraphs as an investigative tool for studying multi-way interactions in gene expression data. Additional freedoms are achieved by representing individual genes with hyperedges, and simultaneously testing each gene against many features/vertices. Further gene/hyperedge interactions can be captured and explored using the line graph representations, a technique that reduces the complexity of dense hypergraphs. Such an approach provides access to graph centrality measures, which identifies salient features within a data set. For instance dominant or hub-like hyperedges, leading to key knowledge on gene expression. The validity of this approach is established through the study of gene expression data for the plant species Senecio lautus and results will be interpreted within this biological setting.