A versatile information retrieval framework for evaluating profile strength and similarity.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology

In profiling assays, thousands of biological properties are measured in a single test, yielding biological discoveries by capturing the state of a cell population, often at the single-cell level. However, for profiling datasets, it has been challenging to evaluate the phenotypic activity of a sample and the phenotypic consistency among samples, due to profiles' high dimensionality, heterogeneous nature, and non-linear properties. Existing methods leave researchers uncertain where to draw boundaries between meaningful biological response and technical noise. Here, we developed a statistical framework that uses the well-established mean average precision (mAP) as a single, data-driven metric to bridge this gap. We validated the mAP framework against established metrics through simulations and real-world data applications, revealing its ability to capture subtle and meaningful biological differences in cell state. Specifically, we used mAP to assess both phenotypic activity for a given perturbation (or a sample) as well as consistency within groups of perturbations (or samples) across diverse high-dimensional datasets. We evaluated the framework on different profile types (image, protein, and mRNA profiles), perturbation types (CRISPR gene editing, gene overexpression, and small molecules), and profile resolutions (single-cell and bulk). Our open-source software allows this framework to be applied to identify interesting biological phenomena and promising therapeutics from large-scale profiling data.

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bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology
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