A Protocol for Using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis to Identify the Appropriate Animal Model for Translational Research
Recent studies that compared transcriptomic datasets of human diseases with datasets from mouse models using traditional gene-to-gene comparison techniques resulted in contradictory conclusions regarding the relevance of animal models for translational research. A major reason for the discrepancies between different gene expression analyses is the arbitrary filtering of differentially expressed genes. Furthermore, the comparison of single genes between different species and platforms often is limited by technical variance, leading to misinterpretation of the con/discordance between data from human and animal models. Thus, standardized approaches for systematic data analysis are needed. To overcome subjective gene filtering and ineffective gene-to-gene comparisons, we recently demonstrated that gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) has the potential to avoid these problems. Therefore, we developed a standardized protocol for the use of GSEA to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate animal models for translational research. This protocol is not suitable to predict how to design new model systems a-priori, as it requires existing experimental omics data. However, the protocol describes how to interpret existing data in a standardized manner in order to select the most suitable animal model, thus avoiding unnecessary animal experiments and misleading translational studies.
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