Identifying causal genes and dysregulated pathways in complex diseases

PLoS Computational Biology
Yoo-Ah KimTeresa M Przytycka


In complex diseases, various combinations of genomic perturbations often lead to the same phenotype. On a molecular level, combinations of genomic perturbations are assumed to dys-regulate the same cellular pathways. Such a pathway-centric perspective is fundamental to understanding the mechanisms of complex diseases and the identification of potential drug targets. In order to provide an integrated perspective on complex disease mechanisms, we developed a novel computational method to simultaneously identify causal genes and dys-regulated pathways. First, we identified a representative set of genes that are differentially expressed in cancer compared to non-tumor control cases. Assuming that disease-associated gene expression changes are caused by genomic alterations, we determined potential paths from such genomic causes to target genes through a network of molecular interactions. Applying our method to sets of genomic alterations and gene expression profiles of 158 Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients we uncovered candidate causal genes and causal paths that are potentially responsible for the altered expression of disease genes. We discovered a set of putative causal genes that potentially play a role in the disease. Comb...Continue Reading


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