Discovery and analysis of consistent active subnetworks in cancers

Raj K. Gaire, Lorey Smith, Patrick Humbert, James Bailey, Peter J. Stuckey, Izhak Haviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Gene expression profiles can show significant changes when genetically diseased cells are compared with nondiseased cells. Biological networks are often used to identify active subnetworks (ASNs) of the diseases from the expression profiles to understand the reason behind the observed changes. Current methodologies for discovering ASNs mostly use undirected PPI networks and node centric approaches. This can limit their ability to find the meaningful ASNs when using integrated networks having comprehensive information than the traditional proteinprotein interaction networks. Using appropriate scoring functions to assess both genes and their interactions may allow the discovery of better ASNs. In this paper, we present CASNet, which aims to identify better ASNs using (i) integrated interaction networks (mixed graphs), (ii) directions of regulations of genes, and (iii) combined node and edge scores. We simplify and extend previous methodologies to incorporate edge evaluations and lessen their sensitivity to significance thresholds. We formulate our objective functions using mixed integer programming (MIP) and show that optimal solutions may be obtained. We compare the ASNs obtained by CASNet and similar other approaches to show that CASNet can often discover more meaningful and stable regulatory ASNs. Our analysis of a breast cancer dataset finds that the positive feedback loops across 7 genes, AR, ESR1, MYC, E2F2, PGR, BCL2 and CCND1 are conserved across the basal/triple negative subtypes in multiple datasets that could potentially explain the aggressive nature of this cancer subtype. Furthermore, comparison of the basal subtype of breast cancer and the mesenchymal subtype of glioblastoma ASNs shows that an ASN in the vicinity of IL6 is conserved across the two subtypes. This result suggests that subtypes of different cancers can show molecular similarities indicating that the therapeutic approaches in different types of cancers may be shared.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS7
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
StatePublished - 21 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The publication costs for this article were funded by the University of Melbourne. This article has been published as part of BMC Bioinformatics Volume 14 Supplement 2, 2013: Selected articles from the Eleventh Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Conference (APBC 2013): Bioinformatics. The full contents of the supplement are available online at bmcbioinformatics/supplements/14/S2.

Funding Information:
This work is supported by National ICT Australia (NICTA), which is funded by the Australian Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability initiatives, in part through the Australian Research Council (ARC), Komen for the cure, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Cancer Australia, Nation Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and Cancer Council Victoria (CCV).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Gaire et al.


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