WIAS Preprint No. 2065, (2015)

Simultaneous statistical inference for epigenetic data


  • Schildknecht, Konstantin
  • Olek, Sven
  • Dickhaus, Thorsten

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 62J15 62G09 62P10


  • beta-value, closed test principle, family-wise error rate, methylation, multiple testing, multivariate statistics, permutation test, relative effect




Epigenetic research leads to complex data structures. Since parametric model assumptions for the distribution of epigenetic data are hard to verify we introduce in the present work a nonparametric statistical framework for two-group comparisons. Furthermore, epigenetic analyses are often performed at various genetic loci simultaneously. Hence, in order to be able to draw valid conclusions for specific loci, an appropriate multiple testing correction is necessary. Finally, with technologies available for the simultaneous assessment of many interrelated biological parameters (such as gene arrays), statistical approaches also need to deal with a possibly unknown dependency structure in the data. Our statistical approach to the nonparametric comparison of two samples with independent multivariate observables is based on recently developed multivariate multiple permutation tests. We adapt their theory in order to cope with families of hypotheses regarding relative effects. Our results indicate that the multivariate multiple permutation test keeps the pre-assigned type I error level for the global null hypothesis. In combination with the closure principle, the family-wise error rate for the simultaneous test of the corresponding locus/parameter-specific null hypotheses can be controlled. In applications we demonstrate that group differences in epigenetic data can be detected reliably with our methodology.

Appeared in

  • PLOS ONE, 10 (2015) pp. e0125587/1--e0125587/15.

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