Question: Is it fair to compare the significance of overlap of 2 different sized gene sets with a third gene set using Fisher's exact test?
gravatar for ebrudermanver
11 months ago by
ebrudermanver40 wrote:

Say I have 3 sets A, B and C of genes chosen from an entire set of 20K genes, and I want to see whether set A has a more significant gene overlap with set C than set B. That's, I want to compute a p-value p associated with the overlap of A and C, and another p-value q associated with the overlap of B and C, and I want to check whether p < q. I know that the p-values p and q in this problem can be computed using Fisher's exact test. My question is as follows: If the set A is bigger than set B (e.g. 150 genes in A vs. 30 genes in B), is it still a fair comparison when I compare the overlaps of each set with C based on the p-values computed using Fisher's exact test?

statistics • 575 views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 months ago by Nicolas Rosewick6.5k • written 11 months ago by ebrudermanver40

My initial thought is that you might have to compare proportional overlaps and not the raw numbers themselves. And even them I'm not sure this makes a lot of sense in edge cases, e.g., comparing two set memberships which have lets say 10 and 10000 members respectively.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by mforde841.2k
gravatar for Jean-Karim Heriche
11 months ago by
EMBL Heidelberg, Germany
Jean-Karim Heriche16k wrote:

The overlap between two sets follows a hypergeometric distribution. When doing a hypergeometric test, the various sizes are taken into account so because Fisher's exact test is based on the hypergeometric distribution, it also takes sample size into consideration. Note that for this (and the Chi-squared test), you need to use counts not proportions.
So if you want to know if A∩C is more likely than B∩C, you can compare the p-values.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 months ago • written 11 months ago by Jean-Karim Heriche16k
gravatar for Nicolas Rosewick
11 months ago by
Belgium, Brussels
Nicolas Rosewick6.5k wrote:

You can use superExactTest R package for this :

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 months ago by Nicolas Rosewick6.5k
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