voom flips the sign relative to log(cpm)
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taur.vil • 0
@9f9e1d49
Last seen 25 days ago
United States

Hello, I'm encountering an odd situation where the effect of stimulation on a gene's expression seems to flip sign after applying limma+voom. We noticed this when the data plotted as log2(cpm+0.01) seemed to have an opposite effect size as the results of lmFit. The gene is pretty highly expressed (log2(CPM) ~ 8) with 140-4000 reads per sample and time point. For comparison, I'm showing below the log2(cpm+0.01) on the left for 4 genes and the voom normalized data in v$E for the same 4 genes on the right; it's the gene in the bottom left of both plots that shows a reversal in sign (I know v$E isn't a variable that's supposed to be plotted, but it illustrates the difference between CPM and voom-normalized data which is also reflected in the effect size from lmFit). Further below, I've also included my code for this analysis. We're modeling an effect of treatment, while controlling for individual (each individual is sampled twice, once in infected and once in control).

Are there any explanations for how voom would change the sign of an effect like this compared to the cpm data? Thank you very much for your help!

limma changes sign

# calculate CPM
cpm <- counts; for (i in 1:66) {cpm[,i] <- (counts[,i]*1e6)/metadata$reads[i]}; rm(i)

# normalize with voom 
y <- DGEList(counts = counts, lib.size = metadata$reads, samples = metadata[,2:3], genes = row.names(counts))
y <- calcNormFactors(y)

design <- model.matrix(~ 1 + stimulated + indiv_names)
colnames(design)[1:2] <- c("intercept", "stimulated")
v = voom(y, design, plot = T, save.plot = T)

# linear model using lmfit
fit = lmFit(v, design)
contr.matrix <- makeContrasts(
  Stimulation = stimulated,
  levels=colnames(design)
)
fit2 <- contrasts.fit(fit = fit, contrasts = contr.matrix)
fit2 = eBayes(fit2, robust=T)
res_lmfit <- topTreat(fit2, coef=1, n=Inf)

sessionInfo()

R version 4.0.2 (2020-06-22)
Platform: x86_64-w64-mingw32/x64 (64-bit)
Running under: Windows 10 x64 (build 19043)

Matrix products: default

locale:
[1] LC_COLLATE=English_United States.1252  LC_CTYPE=English_United States.1252   
[3] LC_MONETARY=English_United States.1252 LC_NUMERIC=C                          
[5] LC_TIME=English_United States.1252    

attached base packages:
[1] stats     graphics  grDevices utils     datasets  methods   base     

other attached packages:
[1] ggplot2_3.3.2 edgeR_3.30.3  limma_3.44.3  lme4_1.1-27.1 Matrix_1.3-4 

loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
 [1] Rcpp_1.0.7        compiler_4.0.2    pillar_1.4.6      nloptr_1.2.2.2    tools_4.0.2      
 [6] statmod_1.4.35    boot_1.3-25       digest_0.6.25     evaluate_0.14     lifecycle_0.2.0  
[11] tibble_3.0.3      gtable_0.3.0      nlme_3.1-148      lattice_0.20-41   pkgconfig_2.0.3  
[16] rlang_0.4.10      yaml_2.2.1        xfun_0.18         withr_2.3.0       dplyr_1.0.2      
[21] knitr_1.30        generics_0.1.0    vctrs_0.3.6       tidyselect_1.1.0  locfit_1.5-9.4   
[26] grid_4.0.2        glue_1.4.2        R6_2.4.1          rmarkdown_2.5     minqa_1.2.4      
[31] farver_2.0.3      purrr_0.3.4       magrittr_1.5      scales_1.1.1      htmltools_0.5.1.1
[36] ellipsis_0.3.1    MASS_7.3-51.6     splines_4.0.2     colorspace_1.4-1  labeling_0.4.2   
[41] munsell_0.5.0     crayon_1.4.1
limma limma-voom rnaseq voom • 151 views
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Cross posted to Biostars https://www.biostars.org/p/9490039/

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@gordon-smyth
Last seen 31 minutes ago
WEHI, Melbourne, Australia

The difference has nothing to do with limma or voom. On the right you applied TMM library size normalization. On the left you did no library size normalization.

If you look closely at your data, I think you will find that the TMM normalization factors for the infected samples are systematically smaller than those for the controls.

Your plot claims to show "normalized CPM" on the left hand side but your code computes plain unnormalized cpm.

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