Background: Eukaryotic transcriptional regulation is known to be highly connected through the networks of cooperative transcription factors (TFs). Measuring the cooperativity of TFs is helpful for understanding the biological relevance of these TFs in regulating genes. The recent advances in computational techniques led to various predictions of cooperative TF pairs in yeast. As each algorithm integrated different data resources and was developed based on different rationales, it possessed its own merit and claimed outperforming others. However, the claim was prone to subjectivity because each algorithm compared with only a few other algorithms and only used a small set of performance indices for comparison. This motivated us to propose a series of indices to objectively evaluate the prediction performance of existing algorithms. And based on the proposed performance indices, we conducted a comprehensive performance evaluation. Results: We collected 14 sets of predicted cooperative TF pairs (PCTFPs) in yeast from 14 existing algorithms in the literature. Using the eight performance indices we adopted/proposed, the cooperativity of each PCTFP was measured and a ranking score according to the mean cooperativity of the set was given to each set of PCTFPs under evaluation for each performance index. It was seen that the ranking scores of a set of PCTFPs vary with different performance indices, implying that an algorithm used in predicting cooperative TF pairs is of strength somewhere but may be of weakness elsewhere. We finally made a comprehensive ranking for these 14 sets. The results showed that Wang J's study obtained the best performance evaluation on the prediction of cooperative TF pairs in yeast. Conclusions: In this study, we adopted/proposed eight performance indices to make a comprehensive performance evaluation on the prediction results of 14 existing cooperative TFs identification algorithms. Most importantly, these proposed indices can be easily applied to measure the performance of new algorithms developed in the future, thus expedite progress in this research field.
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