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Systems biology based meth-miRNA-mRNA regulatory network identifies metabolic imbalance and hyperactive cell cycle signaling involved in hepatocellular carcinoma onset and progression

Systems biology based meth-miRNA-mRNA regulatory network identifies metabolic imbalance and hyperactive cell cycle signaling involved in hepatocellular carcinoma onset and progression

Cancer Cell International 19: 89

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading cause of cancer associated deaths worldwide. Independent studies have proposed altered DNA methylation pattern and aberrant microRNA (miRNA) levels leading to abnormal expression of different genes as important regulators of disease onset and progression in HCC. Here, using systems biology approaches, we aimed to integrate methylation, miRNA profiling and gene expression data into a regulatory methylation-miRNA-mRNA (meth-miRNA-mRNA) network to better understand the onset and progression of the disease. Patients' gene methylation, miRNA expression and gene expression data were retrieved from the NCBI GEO and TCGA databases. Differentially methylated genes, and differentially expressed miRNAs and genes were identified by comparing respective patients' data using two tailed Student's t-test. Functional annotation and pathway enrichment, miRNA-mRNA inverse pairing and gene set enrichment analyses (GSEA) were performed using DAVID, miRDIP v4.1 and GSEA tools respectively. meth-miRNA-mRNA network was constructed using Cytoscape v3.5.1. Kaplan-Meier survival analyses were performed using R script and significance was calculated by Log-rank (Mantel-Cox) test. We identified differentially expressed mRNAs, miRNAs, and differentially methylated genes in HCC as compared to normal adjacent tissues by analyzing gene expression, miRNA expression, and methylation profiling data of HCC patients and integrated top miRNAs along with their mRNA targets and their methylation profile into a regulatory meth-miRNA-mRNA network using systems biology approach. Pathway enrichment analyses of identified genes revealed suppressed metabolic pathways and hyperactive cell cycle signaling as key features of HCC onset and progression which we validated in 10 different HCC patients' datasets. Next, we confirmed the inverse correlation between gene methylation and its expression, and between miRNA and its targets' expression in various datasets. Furthermore, we validated the clinical significance of identified methylation, miRNA and mRNA signatures by checking their association with clinical features and survival of HCC patients. Overall, we suggest that simultaneous (1) reversal of hyper-methylation and/or oncogenic miRNA driven suppression of genes involved in metabolic pathways, and (2) induction of hyper-methylation and/or tumor suppressor miRNA driven suppression of genes involved in cell cycle signaling have potential of inhibiting disease aggressiveness, and predicting good survival in HCC.

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Accession: 066711321

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 31007607

DOI: 10.1186/s12935-019-0804-3

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