GeneSetCluster: A tool for summarizing and integrating gene-set analysis results

Ewoud Ewing, Nuria Planell-Picola, Maja Jagodic, David Gomez-Cabrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Gene-set analysis tools, which make use of curated sets of molecules grouped based on their shared functions, aim to identify which gene-sets are over-represented in the set of features that have been associated with a given trait of interest. Such tools are frequently used in gene-centric approaches derived from RNA-sequencing or microarrays such as Ingenuity or GSEA, but they have also been adapted for interval-based analysis derived from DNA methylation or ChIP/ATAC-sequencing. Gene-set analysis tools return, as a result, a list of significant gene-sets. However, while these results are useful for the researcher in the identification of major biological insights, they may be complex to interpret because many gene-sets have largely overlapping gene contents. Additionally, in many cases the result of gene-set analysis consists of a large number of gene-sets making it complicated to identify the major biological insights. Results: We present GeneSetCluster, a novel approach which allows clustering of identified gene-sets, from one or multiple experiments and/or tools, based on shared genes. GeneSetCluster calculates a distance score based on overlapping gene content, which is then used to cluster them together and as a result, GeneSetCluster identifies groups of gene-sets with similar gene-set definitions (i.e. gene content). These groups of gene-sets can aid the researcher to focus on such groups for biological interpretations. Conclusions: GeneSetCluster is a novel approach for grouping together post gene-set analysis results based on overlapping gene content. GeneSetCluster is implemented as a package in R. The package and the vignette can be downloaded at
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 7 2020
Externally publishedYes


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