Multiple network alignment via multiMAGNA++
Network alignment (NA) aims to find a node mapping that identifies topologically or functionally similar network regions between molecular networks of different species. Analogous to genomic sequence alignment, NA can be used to transfer biological knowledge from well- to poorly-studied species between aligned network regions. Pairwise NA (PNA) finds similar regions between two networks while multiple NA (MNA) can align more than two networks. We focus on MNA. Existing MNA methods aim to maximize total similarity over all aligned nodes (node conservation). Then, they evaluate alignment quality by measuring the amount of conserved edges, but only after the alignment is constructed. Directly optimizing edge conservation during alignment construction in addition to node conservation may result in superior alignments. Thus, we present a novel MNA method called multiMAGNA++ that can achieve this. Indeed, multiMAGNA++ outperforms or is on par with existing MNA methods, while often completing faster than existing methods. That is, multiMAGNA++ scales well to larger network data and can be parallelized effectively. During method evaluation, we also introduce new MNA quality measures to allow for more fair MNA method comparison compared to the existing alignment quality measures. MultiMAGNA++ code is available on the method's web page at http://nd.edu/~cone/multiMAGNA++/.