Tail moments in the single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay usually do not follow a normal distribution, making the statistical analysis complicated. Researchers have used a wide variety of statistical techniques in an attempt to overcome this problem. In many cases, the tail moments follow a bimodal distribution that can be modeled with a mixture of gamma distributions. This bimodality may be due to cells being in two different stages of the cell cycle at the time of treatment. Maximum likelihood, modified to accommodate censored data, can be used to estimate the five parameters of the gamma mixture distribution for each slide. A weighted analysis of variance on the parameter estimates for the gamma mixtures can be performed to determine differences in DNA damage between treatments. These methods were applied to an experiment on the effect of thymidine kinase in DNA damage and repair. Analysis based on the mixture of gamma distributions was found to be more statistically valid, more powerful, and more informative than analysis based on log-transformed tail moments.
Quantitative Microbiology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 8, 2004
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