Archive for the ‘quality’ tag
Recently, on an email thread I was involved in, Egon mentioned that the CDK hashed fingerprints were probably being penalized by the poor hashing provided by Java’s hashCode method. Essentially, he suspected that the collision rate was high and so that the many bits were being set multiple times by different paths and that a fraction of bits were not being touched.
Recall that the CDK hashed fingerprint determines all topologically unique paths upto a certain length and stores them as strings (composed of atom & bond symbols). Each path is then converted to an int via the hashCode method and this int value is used to seed the Java random number generator. Using this generator a random integer value is obtained which is used as the position in the bit string which will be set to 1 for that specific path..
A quick modification to the CDK Fingerprinter code allowed me to dump out the number of times each position in the bitstring was being set, during the calculation of the fingerprint for a single molecule. Plotting the number of hits at each position allows us to visualize the effectiveness of the hashing mechanism. Given that the path strings being hashed are unique, a collision implies that two different paths are being hashed to the same bit position.
The figure alongside summarizes this for the CDK 1024-bit hashed fingerprints on 9 arbitrary molecules. The x-axis represents the bit position and the y-axis on each plot represents the number of times a given position is set to 1 during the calculation. All plots are on the same scale, so we can compare the different molecules (though size effects are not taken into account).
Visually, it appears that the bit positions being set are uniform randomly distributed throughout the length of the fingerprint. However, the number of collisions observed is non-trvial. While for most cases, there doesn’t seem to be a significant number of collisions, the substituted benzoic acid does have a number of bits that are set 4 times and many bits with 2 or more collisions.
The sparsity of triphenyl phosphine can be ascribed to the symmetry of the molecule and the consequent smaller number of unique paths being hashed. However it’s interesting to note that even in such a case, two bit positions see a collision and suggests that the hash function being employed is not that great.
This is a quick hack to get some evidence of hash function quality and its effect on hashed fingerprints. The immediate next step is to look at alternative hash functions. There are also other aspects of the measurement & visualization process that could be tweaked – taking into account molecular size, the actual number of unique paths and converting the plots shown here to some concise numeric representation, allowing us to summarize larger datasets in a single view.
Update – I just realized that the hash function is not the only factor here. The Java random number generator plays an important role. A quick test with the MD5 hash function indicates that we still see collisions (actually, more so than with hashCode), suggesting that the problem may be with how the RNG is being seeded (and the fact that only 48 bits of the seed are used).
When running a high-throughput screen, one usually deals with hundreds or even thousands of plates. Due to the vagaries of experiments, some plates will not be ervy good. That is, the data will be of poor quality due to a variety of reasons. Usually we can evaluate various statistical quality metrics to asses which plates are good and which ones need to be redone. A common metric is the Z-factor which uses the positive and negative control wells. The problem is, that if one or two wells have a problem (say, no signal in the negative control) then the Z-factor will be very poor. Yet, the plate could be used if we just mask those bad wells.
Now, for our current screens (100 plates) manual inspection is boring but doable. As we move to genome-wide screens we need a better way to identify truly bad plates from plates that could be used. One approach is to move to other metrics – SSMD (defined here and applications to quality control discussed here) is regarded as more effective than Z-factor – and in fact it’s advisable to look at multiple metrics rather than depend on any single one.
An alternative trick is to compare the Z-factor for a given plate to the trimmed Z-factor, which is evaluated using the trimmed mean and standard deviations. In our set up we trim 10% of the positive and negative control wells. For a plate that appears to be poor, due to one or two bad control wells, the trimmed Z-factor should be significantly higher than the original Z-factor. But for a plate in which, say the negative control wells all show poor signal, there should not be much of a difference between the two values. The analysis can be rapidly performed using a plot of the two values, as shown below. Given such a plot, we’d probably consider plates whose trimmed Z-factor are less than 0.5 and close to the diagonal. (Though for RNAi screens, Z’ = 0.5 might be too stringent).
From the figure below, just looking at Z-factor would have suggested 4 or 5 plates to redo. But when compared to the trimmed Z-factor, this comes down to a single plate. Of course, we’d look at other statistics as well, but it is a quick way to rapidly identify plates with truly poor Z-factors.