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Inferring slowly changing dynamic gene-regulatory networks


Dynamic gene-regulatory networks are complex since the interaction patterns between its components mean that it is impossible to study parts of the network in separation. This holistic character of gene-regulatory networks poses a real challenge to any type of modelling. Graphical models are a class of models that connect the network with a conditional independence relationships between the random variables. By interpreting the random variables as gene activities and the conditional independence relationships as functional non-relatedness, graphical models have been used to describe gene-regulatory networks. Whereas the literature has been focused on static networks, most time-course experiments are designed in order to tease out temporal changes in the underlying networks. It is typically reasonable to assume that changes in genomic networks are few, because biological systems tend to be stable. We introduce a new model for estimating slowly changes in dynamic gene-regulatory networks, which is suitable for high-dimensional data, e.g. time-course genomic data. Our aim is to estimate a dynamically changing genomic network based on temporal activity measurements of the genes in the network. Our method is based on the penalized likelihood with l1-norm, that penalizes conditional dependencies between genes as well as differences between conditional independence elements across time points. We also present a the heuristic search strategy to find optimal tuning parameters. We re-write the penalized maximum likelihood problem into a standard convex optimization problem subject to linear equality constraints. We show that our method performs well in simulation studies. Finally, we apply the proposed model to a time-course T-cell dataset.