Correspondence regarding Zhong et al., BMC Bioinformatics 2013 Mar 7;14:89
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- BMC Bioinformatics
DOI 10.1186/s12859-014-0347-5

Computational expression deconvolution aims to estimate the contribution of individual cell populations to expression profiles measured in samples of heterogeneous composition. Zhong et al. recently proposed Digital Sorting Algorithm (BMC Bioinformatics 2013 Mar 7;14:89) and showed that they could accurately estimate population-specific expression levels and expression differences between two populations. They compared DSA with Population-Specific Expression Analysis (PSEA), a previous deconvolution method that we developed to detect expression changes occurring within the same population between two conditions (e.g. disease versus non-disease). However, Zhong et al. compared PSEA-derived specific expression levels across different cell populations. Specific expression levels obtained with PSEA cannot be directly compared across different populations as they are on a relative scale. They are accurate as we demonstrate by deconvolving the same dataset used by Zhong et al. and, importantly, allow for comparison of population-specific expression across conditions.

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