The last decade has seen the advent and consolidation of ontology based tools for the identification and biological interpretation of classes of genes, such as the Gene Ontology. The Gene Ontology (GO) is constantly evolving over time. The information accumulated time-by-time and included in the GO is encoded in the definition of terms and in the setting up of semantic relations amongst terms. Here we investigate the Gene Ontology from a complex network perspective. We consider the semantic network of terms naturally associated with the semantic relationships provided by the Gene Ontology consortium. Moreover, the GO is a natural example of bipartite network of terms and genes. Here we are interested in studying the properties of the projected network of terms, i.e. a gene-based weighted network of GO terms, in which a link between any two terms is set if at least one gene is annotated in both terms. One aim of the present paper is to compare the structural properties of the semantic and the gene-based network. The relative importance of terms is very similar in the two networks, but the community structure changes. We show that in some cases GO terms that appear to be distinct from a semantic point of view are instead connected, and appear in the same community when considering their gene content. The identification of such gene-based communities of terms might therefore be the basis of a simple protocol aiming at improving the semantic structure of GO. Information about terms that share large gene content might also be important from a biomedical point of view, as it might reveal how genes over-expressed in a certain term also affect other biological processes, molecular functions and cellular components not directly linked according to GO semantics.
|Numero di pagine||16|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2016|
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