Incorporating increased variability in testing for cancer DNA methylation

by   James Y. Dai, et al.

Cancer development is associated with aberrant DNA methylation, including increased stochastic variability. Statistical tests for discovering cancer methylation biomarkers have focused on changes in mean methylation. To improve the power of detection, we propose to incorporate increased variability in testing for cancer differential methylation by two joint constrained tests: one for differential mean and increased variance, the other for increased mean and increased variance. To improve small sample properties, likelihood ratio statistics are developed, accounting for the variability in estimating the sample medians in the Levene test. Efficient algorithms were developed and implemented in DMVC function of R package DMtest. The proposed joint constrained tests were compared to standard tests and partial area under the curve (pAUC) for the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) in simulated datasets under diverse models. Application to the high-throughput methylome data in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) shows substantially increased yield of candidate CpG markers.


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