Reconstruction of metabolic pathways by combining probabilistic graphical model-based and knowledge-based methods
Automatic reconstruction of metabolic pathways for an organism from genomics and transcriptomics data has been a challenging and important problem in bioinformatics. Traditionally, known reference pathways can be mapped into an organism-specific ones based on its genome annotation and protein homology. However, this simple knowledge-based mapping method might produce incomplete pathways and generally cannot predict unknown new relations and reactions. In contrast, ab initio metabolic network
... struction methods can predict novel reactions and interactions, but its accuracy tends to be low leading to a lot of false positives. Here we combine existing pathway knowledge and a new ab initio Bayesian probabilistic graphical model together in a novel fashion to improve automatic reconstruction of metabolic networks. Specifically, we built a knowledge database containing known, individual gene / protein interactions and metabolic reactions extracted from existing reference pathways. Known reactions and interactions were then used as constraints for Bayesian network learning methods to predict metabolic pathways. Using individual reactions and interactions extracted from different pathways of many organisms to guide pathway construction is new and improves both the coverage and accuracy of metabolic pathway construction. We applied this probabilistic knowledge-based approach to construct the metabolic networks from yeast gene expression data and compared its results with 62 known metabolic networks in the KEGG database. The experiment showed that the method improved the coverage of metabolic network construction over the traditional reference pathway mapping method and was more accurate than pure ab initio methods.