Statistical integration of heterogeneous omics data

Probabilistic two-way partial least squares (PO2PLS)

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The availability of multi-omics data has revolutionized the life sciences by creating avenues for integrated system-level approaches. Data integration links the information across datasets to better understand the underlying biological processes. However, high dimensionality, correlations and heterogeneity pose statistical and computational challenges. We propose a general framework, probabilistic two-way partial least squares (PO2PLS), that addresses these challenges. PO2PLS models the relationship between two datasets using joint and data-specific latent variables. For maximum likelihood estimation of the parameters, we propose a novel fast EM algorithm and show that the estimator is asymptotically normally distributed. A global test for the relationship between two datasets is proposed, specifically addressing the high dimensionality, and its asymptotic distribution is derived. Notably, several existing data integration methods are special cases of PO2PLS. Via extensive simulations, we show that PO2PLS performs better than alternatives in feature selection and prediction performance. In addition, the asymptotic distribution appears to hold when the sample size is sufficiently large. We illustrate PO2PLS with two examples from commonly used study designs: a large population cohort and a small case–control study. Besides recovering known relationships, PO2PLS also identified novel findings. The methods are implemented in our R-package PO2PLS.