Integrative analysis of gene and miRNA expression profiles with transcription factor-miRNA feed-forward loops identifies regulators in human cancers.
ABSTRACT: We describe here a novel method for integrating gene and miRNA expression profiles in cancer using feed-forward loops (FFLs) consisting of transcription factors (TFs), miRNAs and their common target genes. The dChip-GemiNI (Gene and miRNA Network-based Integration) method statistically ranks computationally predicted FFLs by their explanatory power to account for differential gene and miRNA expression between two biological conditions such as normal and cancer. GemiNI integrates not only gene and miRNA expression data but also computationally derived information about TF-target gene and miRNA-mRNA interactions. Literature validation shows that the integrated modeling of expression data and FFLs better identifies cancer-related TFs and miRNAs compared to existing approaches. We have utilized GemiNI for analyzing six data sets of solid cancers (liver, kidney, prostate, lung and germ cell) and found that top-ranked FFLs account for ?20% of transcriptome changes between normal and cancer. We have identified common FFL regulators across multiple cancer types, such as known FFLs consisting of MYC and miR-15/miR-17 families, and novel FFLs consisting of ARNT, CREB1 and their miRNA partners. The results and analysis web server are available at http://www.canevolve.org/dChip-GemiNi.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>As one of the most common types of co-regulatory motifs, feed-forward loops (FFLs) control many cell functions and play an important role in human cancers. Therefore, it is crucial to reconstruct and analyze cancer-related FFLs that are controlled by transcription factor (TF) and microRNA (miRNA) simultaneously, in order to find out how miRNAs and TFs cooperate with each other in cancer cells and how they contribute to carcinogenesis. Current FFL studies rely on predicted regulation information and therefore suffer the false positive issue in prediction results. More critically, FFLs generated by existing approaches cannot represent the dynamic and conditional regulation relationship under different experimental conditions.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>In this study, we proposed a novel filter-wrapper feature selection method to accurately identify co-regulatory mechanism by incorporating prior information from predicted regulatory interactions with parallel miRNA/mRNA expression datasets. By applying this method, we reconstructed 208 and 110 TF-miRNA co-regulatory FFLs from human pan-cancer and prostate datasets, respectively. Further analysis of these cancer-related FFLs showed that the top-ranking TF STAT3 and miRNA hsa-let-7e are key regulators implicated in human cancers, which have regulated targets significantly enriched in cellular process regulations and signaling pathways that are involved in carcinogenesis.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>In this study, we introduced an efficient computational approach to reconstruct co-regulatory FFLs by accurately identifying gene co-regulatory interactions. The strength of the proposed feature selection method lies in the fact it can precisely filter out false positives in predicted regulatory interactions by quantitatively modeling the complex co-regulation of target genes mediated by TFs and miRNAs simultaneously. Moreover, the proposed feature selection method can be generally applied to other gene regulation studies using parallel expression data with respect to different biological contexts.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide with poor prognosis. Studies have showed that abnormal microRNA (miRNA) expression can affect CRC pathogenesis and development through targeting critical genes in cellular system. However, it is unclear about which miRNAs play central roles in CRC's pathogenesis and how they interact with transcription factors (TFs) to regulate the cancer-related genes.To address this issue, we systematically explored the major regulation motifs, namely feed-forward loops (FFLs), that consist of miRNAs, TFs and CRC-related genes through the construction of a miRNA-TF regulatory network in CRC. First, we compiled CRC-related miRNAs, CRC-related genes, and human TFs from multiple data sources. Second, we identified 13,123 3-node FFLs including 25 miRNA-FFLs, 13,005 TF-FFLs and 93 composite-FFLs, and merged the 3-node FFLs to construct a CRC-related regulatory network. The network consists of three types of regulatory subnetworks (SNWs): miRNA-SNW, TF-SNW, and composite-SNW. To enhance the accuracy of the network, the results were filtered by using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) expression data in CRC, whereby we generated a core regulatory network consisting of 58 significant FFLs. We then applied a hub identification strategy to the significant FFLs and found 5 significant components, including two miRNAs (hsa-miR-25 and hsa-miR-31), two genes (ADAMTSL3 and AXIN1) and one TF (BRCA1). The follow up prognosis analysis indicated all of the 5 significant components having good prediction of overall survival of CRC patients.In summary, we generated a CRC-specific miRNA-TF regulatory network, which is helpful to understand the complex CRC regulatory mechanisms and guide clinical treatment. The discovered 5 regulators might have critical roles in CRC pathogenesis and warrant future investigation.
Project description:Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common genetic cardiovascular disease. Although some genes and miRNAs related with HCM have been studied, the molecular regulatory mechanisms between miRNAs and transcription factors (TFs) in HCM have not been systematically elucidated. In this study, we proposed a novel method for identifying dysregulated miRNA-TF feed-forward loops (FFLs) by integrating sample matched miRNA and gene expression profiles and experimentally verified interactions of TF-target gene and miRNA-target gene. We identified 316 dysregulated miRNA-TF FFLs in HCM, which were confirmed to be closely related with HCM from various perspectives. Subpathway enrichment analysis demonstrated that the method was outperformed by the existing method. Furthermore, we systematically analysed the global architecture and feature of gene regulation by miRNAs and TFs in HCM, and the FFL composed of hsa-miR-17-5p, FASN and STAT3 was inferred to play critical roles in HCM. Additionally, we identified two panels of biomarkers defined by three TFs (CEBPB, HIF1A, and STAT3) and four miRNAs (hsa-miR-155-5p, hsa-miR-17-5p, hsa-miR-20a-5p, and hsa-miR-181a-5p) in a discovery cohort of 126 samples, which could differentiate HCM patients from healthy controls with better performance. Our work provides HCM-related dysregulated miRNA-TF FFLs for further experimental study, and provides candidate biomarkers for HCM diagnosis and treatment.
Project description:Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a fatal genetic disorder caused by mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene that primarily affects the lungs and the digestive system, and the current drug treatment is mainly able to alleviate symptoms. To improve disease management for CF, we considered the repurposing of approved drugs and hypothesized that specific microRNA (miRNA) transcription factors (TF) gene networks can be used to generate feed-forward loops (FFLs), thus providing treatment opportunities on the basis of disease specific FFLs.Comprehensive database searches revealed significantly enriched TFs and miRNAs in CF and CFTR gene networks. The target genes were validated using ChIPBase and by employing a consensus approach of diverse algorithms to predict miRNA gene targets. STRING analysis confirmed protein-protein interactions (PPIs) among network partners and motif searches defined composite FFLs. Using information extracted from SM2miR and Pharmaco-miR, an in silico drug repurposing pipeline was established based on the regulation of miRNA/TFs in CF/CFTR networks.In human airway epithelium, a total of 15 composite FFLs were constructed based on CFTR specific miRNA/TF gene networks. Importantly, nine of them were confirmed in patient samples and CF epithelial cells lines, and STRING PPI analysis provided evidence that the targets interacted with each other. Functional analysis revealed that ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum dominate the composite FFLs, whose major functions are folding, sorting, and degradation. Given that the mutated CFTR gene disrupts the function of the chloride channel, the constructed FFLs address mechanistic aspects of the disease and, among 48 repurposing drug candidates, 26 were confirmed with literature reports and/or existing clinical trials relevant to the treatment of CF patients.The construction of FFLs identified promising drug repurposing candidates for CF and the developed strategy may be applied to other diseases as well.
Project description:Although high-grade serous ovarian cancer (OVC) is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy in women, little is known about the regulatory mechanisms in the cellular processes that lead to this cancer. Recently, accumulated lines of evidence have shown that the interplay between transcription factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) is critical in cellular regulation during tumorigenesis. A comprehensive investigation of TFs and miRNAs, and their target genes, may provide a deeper understanding of the regulatory mechanisms in the pathology of OVC. In this study, we have integrated three complementary algorithms into a framework, aiming to infer the regulation by miRNAs and TFs in conjunction with gene expression profiles. We demonstrated the utility of our framework by inferring 67 OVC-specific regulatory feed-forward loops (FFL) initiated by miRNAs or TFs in high-grade serous OVC. By analyzing these regulatory behaviors, we found that all the 67 FFLs are consistent in their regulatory effects on genes that are jointly targeted by miRNAs and TFs. Remarkably, we unveiled an unbalanced distribution of FFLs with different oncogenic effects. In total, 31 of the 67 coherent FFLs were mainly initiated by oncogenes. On the contrary, only 4 of the FFLs were initiated by tumor suppressor genes. These overwhelmingly observed oncogenic genes were further detected in a sub-network with 32 FFLs centered by miRNA let-7b and TF TCF7L1 to regulate cell differentiation. Closer inspection of 32 FFLs revealed that 75% of the miRNAs reportedly play functional roles in cell differentiation, especially when enriched in epithelial-mesenchymal transitions. This study provides a comprehensive pathophysiological overview of recurring coherent circuits in OVC that are co-regulated by miRNAs and TFs. The prevalence of oncogenic coherent FFLs in serous OVC suggests that oncogene-driven regulatory motifs could cooperatively act upon critical cellular processes such as cell differentiation in a highly efficient and consistent manner.
Project description:Recent studies have revealed that feed-forward loops (FFLs) as regulatory motifs have synergistic roles in cellular systems and their disruption may cause diseases including cancer. FFLs may include two regulators such as transcription factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs). In this study, we extensively investigated TF and miRNA regulation pairs, their FFLs, and TF-miRNA mediated regulatory networks in two major types of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT): seminoma (SE) and non-seminoma (NSE). Specifically, we identified differentially expressed mRNA genes and miRNAs in 103 tumors using the transcriptomic data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Next, we determined significantly correlated TF-gene/miRNA and miRNA-gene/TF pairs with regulation direction. Subsequently, we determined 288 and 664 dysregulated TF-miRNA-gene FFLs in SE and NSE, respectively. By constructing dysregulated FFL networks, we found that many hub nodes (12 out of 30 for SE and 8 out of 32 for NSE) in the top ranked FFLs could predict subtype-classification (Random Forest classifier, average accuracy ?90%). These hub molecules were validated by an independent dataset. Our network analysis pinpointed several SE-specific dysregulated miRNAs (miR-200c-3p, miR-25-3p, and miR-302a-3p) and genes (EPHA2, JUN, KLF4, PLXDC2, RND3, SPI1, and TIMP3) and NSE-specific dysregulated miRNAs (miR-367-3p, miR-519d-3p, and miR-96-5p) and genes (NR2F1 and NR2F2). This study is the first systematic investigation of TF and miRNA regulation and their co-regulation in two major TGCT subtypes.
Project description:Transcription factor and microRNA (miRNA) can mutually regulate each other and jointly regulate their shared target genes to form feed-forward loops (FFLs). While there are many studies of dysregulated FFLs in a specific cancer, a systematic investigation of dysregulated FFLs across multiple tumor types (pan-cancer FFLs) has not been performed yet. In this study, using The Cancer Genome Atlas data, we identified 26 pan-cancer FFLs, which were dysregulated in at least five tumor types. These pan-cancer FFLs could communicate with each other and form functionally consistent subnetworks, such as epithelial to mesenchymal transition-related subnetwork. Many proteins and miRNAs in each subnetwork belong to the same protein and miRNA family, respectively. Importantly, cancer-associated genes and drug targets were enriched in these pan-cancer FFLs, in which the genes and miRNAs also tended to be hubs and bottlenecks. Finally, we identified potential anticancer indications for existing drugs with novel mechanism of action. Collectively, this study highlights the potential of pan-cancer FFLs as a novel paradigm in elucidating pathogenesis of cancer and developing anticancer drugs.
Project description:Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression accomplished by microRNAs (miRNAs) importantly affects the complex gene regulatory network. In particular, miRNAs are known to be involved in recurrent motifs named miRNA-mediated feed forward loops (FFLs) where a transcription factor (TF) regulates a miRNA and they both regulate the expression level of a target RNA. Here, we focus on the identification of active FFLs during adipogenic differentiation. A list of putative feed-forward loops was generated based on sequence analysis of conserved and overrepresented motifs in the regulatory regions. Since this approach is not specific for adipogenesis and is known to generate false positive feed-forward loops, an experiment was designed to select active ones based on their dynamics using a model-based approach. Microarray time series of gene and miRNA expression data were collected at seven time points on human multipotent adipose-derived stem (hMADS) cells upon adipogenic differentiation. Three different dynamic models, sharing the same FFL topology but incorporating descriptions of increasing complexity of miRNA and mRNA dynamics, are identified on miRNA and mRNA expression data and compared based on identification criteria, namely: goodness of fit, precision of the estimates and comparison with submodels. 24 FFLs, able to properly reproduce data, are selected as active out of the 329 putative ones. This method considerably reduces the search space for new interactions between TFs, miRNAs and mRNAs and provides interesting biological results identifying genes known from the literature to be regulators in adipogenesis and adipocyte-related functions that can be interpreted as positive control of the validity of the apporoach. Therefore, the genes in the selected FFLs that are not yet known to be involved in this context are potential novel players in this regulatory network of adipogenesis and adipocyte function. Two independent cell culture experiments were performed as biological replicates during adipogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cell. Cells where harvested at the pre-confluent stage as reference (day -3) and at seven subsequent time points during human adipogenic differentiation: day -2 and 0 before, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 15 days after induction of differentiation. All hybridizations were repeated with reversed dye assignment (dye-swap).
Project description:Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and lethal brain tumor in humans. Recent studies revealed that patterns of microRNA (miRNA) expression in GBM tissue samples are different from those in normal brain tissues, suggesting that a number of miRNAs play critical roles in the pathogenesis of GBM. However, little is yet known about which miRNAs play central roles in the pathology of GBM and their regulatory mechanisms of action. To address this issue, in this study, we systematically explored the main regulation format (feed-forward loops, FFLs) consisting of miRNAs, transcription factors (TFs) and their impacting GBM-related genes, and developed a computational approach to construct a miRNA-TF regulatory network. First, we compiled GBM-related miRNAs, GBM-related genes, and known human TFs. We then identified 1,128 3-node FFLs and 805 4-node FFLs with statistical significance. By merging these FFLs together, we constructed a comprehensive GBM-specific miRNA-TF mediated regulatory network. Then, from the network, we extracted a composite GBM-specific regulatory network. To illustrate the GBM-specific regulatory network is promising for identification of critical miRNA components, we specifically examined a Notch signaling pathway subnetwork. Our follow up topological and functional analyses of the subnetwork revealed that six miRNAs (miR-124, miR-137, miR-219-5p, miR-34a, miR-9, and miR-92b) might play important roles in GBM, including some results that are supported by previous studies. In this study, we have developed a computational framework to construct a miRNA-TF regulatory network and generated the first miRNA-TF regulatory network for GBM, providing a valuable resource for further understanding the complex regulatory mechanisms in GBM. The observation of critical miRNAs in the Notch signaling pathway, with partial verification from previous studies, demonstrates that our network-based approach is promising for the identification of new and important miRNAs in GBM and, potentially, other cancers.
Project description:Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder with molecular mechanisms that have yet to be elucidated. Previous studies have suggested that changes in gene expression may play an important role in the etiology of schizophrenia, and that microRNAs (miRNAs) and transcription factors (TFs) are primary regulators of this gene expression. So far, several miRNA-TF mediated regulatory modules have been verified. We hypothesized that miRNAs and TFs might play combinatory regulatory roles for schizophrenia genes and, thus, explored miRNA-TF regulatory networks in schizophrenia.We identified 32 feed-forward loops (FFLs) among our compiled schizophrenia-related miRNAs, TFs and genes. Our evaluation revealed that these observed FFLs were significantly enriched in schizophrenia genes. By converging the FFLs and mutual feedback loops, we constructed a novel miRNA-TF regulatory network for schizophrenia. Our analysis revealed EGR3 and hsa-miR-195 were core regulators in this regulatory network. We next proposed a model highlighting EGR3 and miRNAs involved in signaling pathways and regulatory networks in the nervous system. Finally, we suggested several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located on miRNAs, their target sites, and TFBSs, which may have an effect in schizophrenia gene regulation.This study provides many insights on the regulatory mechanisms of genes involved in schizophrenia. It represents the first investigation of a miRNA-TF regulatory network for a complex disease, as demonstrated in schizophrenia.