Background: Micro- and macroarray technologies help acquire thousands of gene expression patterns covering important biological processes during plant ontogeny. Particularly, faithful visualization methods are beneficial for revealing interesting gene expression patterns and functional relationships of coexpressed genes. Such screening helps to gain deeper insights into regulatory behavior and cellular responses, as will be discussed for expression data of developing barley endosperm tissue. For that purpose, high-throughput multidimensional scaling (HiT-MDS), a recent method for similarity-preserving data embedding, is substantially refined and used for ( a) assessing the quality and reliability of centroid gene expression patterns, and for (b) derivation of functional relationships of coexpressed genes of endosperm tissue during barley grain development ( 0 - 26 days after flowering).
Results: Temporal expression profiles of 4824 genes at 14 time points are faithfully embedded into two-dimensional displays. Thereby, similar shapes of coexpressed genes get closely grouped by a correlation-based similarity measure. As a main result, by using power transformation of correlation terms, a characteristic cloud of points with bipolar sandglass shape is obtained that is inherently connected to expression patterns of pre-storage, intermediate and storage phase of endosperm development.
Conclusion: The new HiT-MDS-2 method helps to create global views of expression patterns and to validate centroids obtained from clustering programs. Furthermore, functional gene annotation for developing endosperm barley tissue is successfully mapped to the visualization, making easy localization of major centroids of enriched functional categories possible.