An introduction to Gaussian Bayesian networks.
The extraction of regulatory networks and pathways from postgenomic data is important for drug -discovery and development, as the extracted pathways reveal how genes or proteins regulate each other. Following up on the seminal paper of Friedman et al. (J Comput Biol 7:601-620, 2000), Bayesian networks have been widely applied as a popular tool to this end in systems biology research. Their popularity stems from the tractability of the marginal likelihood of the network structure, which is a consistent scoring scheme in the Bayesian context. This score is based on an integration over the entire parameter space, for which highly expensive computational procedures have to be applied when using more complex -models based on differential equations; for example, see (Bioinformatics 24:833-839, 2008). This chapter gives an introduction to reverse engineering regulatory networks and pathways with Gaussian Bayesian networks, that is Bayesian networks with the probabilistic BGe scoring metric [see (Geiger and Heckerman 235-243, 1995)]. In the BGe model, the data are assumed to stem from a Gaussian distribution and a normal-Wishart prior is assigned to the unknown parameters. Gaussian Bayesian network methodology for analysing static observational, static interventional as well as dynamic (observational) time series data will be described in detail in this chapter. Finally, we apply these Bayesian network inference methods (1) to observational and interventional flow cytometry (protein) data from the well-known RAF pathway to evaluate the global network reconstruction accuracy of Bayesian network inference and (2) to dynamic gene expression time series data of nine circadian genes in Arabidopsis thaliana to reverse engineer the unknown regulatory network topology for this domain.