Signature Evaluation Tool (SET): A Java-based tool to evaluate and visualize the sample discrimination abilities of gene expression signatures

Chih Hung Jen, Tsun Po Yang, Chien Yi Tung, Shu Han Su, Chi Hung Lin, Ming Ta Hsu, Hsei Wei Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The identification of specific gene expression signature for distinguishing sample groups is a dominant field in cancer research. Although a number of tools have been developed to identify optimal gene expression signatures, the number of signature genes obtained is often overly large to be applied clinically. Furthermore, experimental verification is sometimes limited by the availability of wet-lab materials such as antibodies and reagents. A tool to evaluate the discrimination power of candidate genes is therefore in high demand by clinical researchers. Results: Signature Evaluation Tool (SET) is a Java-based tool adopting the Golub's weighted voting algorithm as well as incorporating the visual presentation of prediction strength for each array sample. SET provides a flexible and easy-to-follow platform to evaluate the discrimination power of a gene signature. Here, we demonstrated the application of SET for several purposes: (1) for signatures consisting of a large number of genes, SET offers the ability to rapidly narrow down the number of genes; (2) for a given signature (from third party analyses or user-defined), SET can re-evaluate and re-adjust its discrimination power by selecting/de-selecting genes repeatedly; (3) for multiple microarray datasets, SET can evaluate the classification capability of a signature among datasets; and (4) by providing a module to visualize the prediction strength for each sample, SET allows users to re-evaluate the discrimination power on mis-grouped or less-certain samples. Information obtained from the above applications could be useful in prognostic analyses or clinical management decisions. Conclusion: Here we present SET to evaluate and visualize the sample-discrimination ability of a given gene expression signature. This tool provides a filtration function for signature identification and lies between clinical analyses and class prediction (or feature selection) tools. The simplicity, flexibility and brevity of SET could make it an invaluable tool for marker identification in clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2008


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