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  1. Abstract Background There is growing evidence indicating that a number of functional connectivity networks are disrupted at each stage of the full clinical Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. Such differences are also detectable in cognitive normal (CN) carrying mutations of AD risk genes, suggesting a substantial relationship between genetics and AD-altered functional brain networks. However, direct genetic effect on functional connectivity networks has not been measured. Methods Leveraging existing AD functional connectivity studies collected in NeuroSynth, we performed a meta-analysis to identify two sets of brain regions: ones with altered functional connectivity in resting state network and ones without. Then with the brain-wide gene expression data in the Allen Human Brain Atlas, we applied a new biclustering method to identify a set of genes with differential co-expression patterns between these two set of brain regions. Results Differential co-expression analysis using biclustering method led to a subset of 38 genes which showed distinctive co-expression patterns between AD-related and non AD-related brain regions in default mode network. More specifically, we observed 4 sub-clusters with noticeable co-expression difference, where the difference in correlations is above 0.5 on average. Conclusions This work applies a new biclustering method to search for a subset of genes with altered co-expression patterns in AD-related default mode network regions. Compared with traditional differential expression analysis, differential co-expression analysis yielded many more significant hits with extra insights into the wiring mechanism between genes. Particularly, the differential co-expression pattern was observed between two sets of genes, suggesting potential upstream genetic regulators in AD development. 
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  2. Abstract

    Quantitative assessment of single cell fluxome is critical for understanding the metabolic heterogeneity in diseases. Unfortunately, laboratory-based single cell fluxomics is currently impractical, and the current computational tools for flux estimation are not designed for single cell-level prediction. Given the well-established link between transcriptomic and metabolomic profiles, leveraging single cell transcriptomics data to predict single cell fluxome is not only feasible but also an urgent task. In this study, we present FLUXestimator, an online platform for predicting metabolic fluxome and variations using single cell or general transcriptomics data of large sample-size. The FLUXestimator webserver implements a recently developed unsupervised approach called single cell flux estimation analysis (scFEA), which uses a new neural network architecture to estimate reaction rates from transcriptomics data. To the best of our knowledge, FLUXestimator is the first web-based tool dedicated to predicting cell-/sample-wise metabolic flux and metabolite variations using transcriptomics data of human, mouse and 15 other common experimental organisms. The FLUXestimator webserver is available at, and stand-alone tools for local use are available at Our tool provides a new avenue for studying metabolic heterogeneity in diseases and has the potential to facilitate the development of new therapeutic strategies.

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  3. Liu, Jie (Ed.)
    Metastatic cancer accounts for over 90% of all cancer deaths, and evaluations of metastasis potential are vital for minimizing the metastasis-associated mortality and achieving optimal clinical decision-making. Computational assessment of metastasis potential based on large-scale transcriptomic cancer data is challenging because metastasis events are not always clinically detectable. The under-diagnosis of metastasis events results in biased classification labels, and classification tools using biased labels may lead to inaccurate estimations of metastasis potential. This issue is further complicated by the unknown metastasis prevalence at the population level, the small number of confirmed metastasis cases, and the high dimensionality of the candidate molecular features. Our proposed algorithm, called P ositive and unlabeled L earning from U nbalanced cases and S parse structures ( PLUS ), is the first to use a positive and unlabeled learning framework to account for the under-detection of metastasis events in building a classifier. PLUS is specifically tailored for studying metastasis that deals with the unbalanced instance allocation as well as unknown metastasis prevalence, which are not considered by other methods. PLUS achieves superior performance on synthetic datasets compared with other state-of-the-art methods. Application of PLUS to The Cancer Genome Atlas Pan-Cancer gene expression data generated metastasis potential predictions that show good agreement with the clinical follow-up data, in addition to predictive genes that have been validated by independent single-cell RNA-sequencing datasets. 
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  4. An immunotherapy trial often uses the phase I/II design to identify the optimal biological dose, which monitors the efficacy and toxicity outcomes simultaneously in a single trial. The progression-free survival rate is often used as the efficacy outcome in phase I/II immunotherapy trials. As a result, patients developing disease progression in phase I/II immunotherapy trials are generally seriously ill and are often treated off the trial for ethical consideration. Consequently, the happening of disease progression will terminate the toxicity event but not vice versa, so the issue of the semi-competing risks arises. Moreover, this issue can become more intractable with the late-onset outcomes, which happens when a relatively long follow-up time is required to ascertain progression-free survival. This paper proposes a novel Bayesian adaptive phase I/II design accounting for semi-competing risks outcomes for immunotherapy trials, referred to as the dose-finding design accounting for semi-competing risks outcomes for immunotherapy trials (SCI) design. To tackle the issue of the semi-competing risks in the presence of late-onset outcomes, we re-construct the likelihood function based on each patient's actual follow-up time and develop a data augmentation method to efficiently draw posterior samples from a series of Beta-binomial distributions. We propose a concise curve-free dose-finding algorithm to adaptively identify the optimal biological dose using accumulated data without making any parametric dose–response assumptions. Numerical studies show that the proposed SCI design yields good operating characteristics in dose selection, patient allocation, and trial duration. 
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  5. In this paper, we propose a Spatial Robust Mixture Regression model to investigate the relationship between a response variable and a set of explanatory variables over the spatial domain, assuming that the relationships may exhibit complex spatially dynamic patterns that cannot be captured by constant regression coefficients. Our method integrates the robust finite mixture Gaussian regression model with spatial constraints, to simultaneously handle the spatial non-stationarity, local homogeneity, and outlier contaminations. Compared with existing spatial regression models, our proposed model assumes the existence a few distinct regression models that are estimated based on observations that exhibit similar response-predictor relationships. As such, the proposed model not only accounts for non-stationarity in the spatial trend, but also clusters observations into a few distinct and homogenous groups. This provides an advantage on interpretation with a few stationary sub-processes identified that capture the predominant relationships between response and predictor variables. Moreover, the proposed method incorporates robust procedures to handle contaminations from both regression outliers and spatial outliers. By doing so, we robustly segment the spatial domain into distinct local regions with similar regression coefficients, and sporadic locations that are purely outliers. Rigorous statistical hypothesis testing procedure has been designed to test the significance of such segmentation. Experimental results on many synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the robustness, accuracy, and effectiveness of our proposed method, compared with other robust finite mixture regression, spatial regression and spatial segmentation methods. 
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  6. Abstract Identifying relationships between genetic variations and their clinical presentations has been challenged by the heterogeneous causes of a disease. It is imperative to unveil the relationship between the high-dimensional genetic manifestations and the clinical presentations, while taking into account the possible heterogeneity of the study subjects.We proposed a novel supervised clustering algorithm using penalized mixture regression model, called component-wise sparse mixture regression (CSMR), to deal with the challenges in studying the heterogeneous relationships between high-dimensional genetic features and a phenotype. The algorithm was adapted from the classification expectation maximization algorithm, which offers a novel supervised solution to the clustering problem, with substantial improvement on both the computational efficiency and biological interpretability. Experimental evaluation on simulated benchmark datasets demonstrated that the CSMR can accurately identify the subspaces on which subset of features are explanatory to the response variables, and it outperformed the baseline methods. Application of CSMR on a drug sensitivity dataset again demonstrated the superior performance of CSMR over the others, where CSMR is powerful in recapitulating the distinct subgroups hidden in the pool of cell lines with regards to their coping mechanisms to different drugs. CSMR represents a big data analysis tool with the potential to resolve the complexity of translating the clinical representations of the disease to the real causes underpinning it. We believe that it will bring new understanding to the molecular basis of a disease and could be of special relevance in the growing field of personalized medicine. 
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