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Cell Cycle. 2006 Jun;5(11):1148-51. Epub 2006 Jun 1.

From description to causality: mechanisms of gene expression signatures in cancer.

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  • 1Program in Epithelial Biology and Cancer Biology Program, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Global gene expression profiles of thousands of cancer samples have been completed, giving rise to hundreds of gene expression signatures (GES). Although many expression signatures show promise in predicting patient prognosis or response to therapies, the usefulness of the signatures in understanding the underlying mechanisms of cancer has not been fully exploited. While "reverse genomic" methods can test specific hypotheses of gene regulation, they fare less well in deciphering novel or combinatorial mechanisms of gene regulation. Recently we described SLAMS (stepwise linkage analysis of microarray signatures), a novel method that can prospectively identify genetic regulators of gene expression signatures in cancer. Applying SLAMS on a poor-prognosis wound signature in human breast cancer, we identified CSN5-mediated ubiquitination of MYC as a novel mechanism to activate a biological program favoring metastasis.

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