miRNAs are key regulators that bind to target genes to suppress their gene expression level. The relations between miRNA-target genes enable users to derive co-expressed genes that may be involved in similar biological processes and functions in cells. We hypothesize that target genes of miRNAs are co-expressed, when they are regulated by multiple miRNAs. With the usage of these co-expressed genes, we can theoretically construct co-expression networks (GCNs) related to 152 diseases. In this study, we introduce ARNetMiT that utilize a hash based association rule algorithm in a novel way to infer the GCNs on miRNA-target genes data. We also present R package of ARNetMiT, which infers and visualizes GCNs of diseases that are selected by users. Our approach assumes miRNAs as transactions and target genes as their items. Support and confidence values are used to prune association rules on miRNA-target genes data to construct support based GCNs (sGCNs) along with support and confidence based GCNs (scGCNs). We use overlap analysis and the topological features for the performance analysis of GCNs. We also infer GCNs with popular GNI algorithms for comparison with the GCNs of ARNetMiT. Overlap analysis results show that ARNetMiT outperforms the compared GNI algorithms. We see that using high confidence values in scGCNs increase the ratio of the overlapped gene-gene interactions between the compared methods. According to the evaluation of the topological features of ARNetMiT based GCNs, the degrees of nodes have power-law distribution. The hub genes discovered by ARNetMiT based GCNs are consistent with the literature.
Association rule based algorithms; GNI algorithms; Gene co-expression network; miRNA-target genes.