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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033653. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

High accordance in prognosis prediction of colorectal cancer across independent datasets by multi-gene module expression profiles.

Author information

  • 1Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Bioinformatics, State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, People's Republic of China.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2012;9(7). doi:10.1371/annotation/59a30e2e-76cf-4b51-9489-5bf0c2394afb.


A considerable portion of patients with colorectal cancer have a high risk of disease recurrence after surgery. These patients can be identified by analyzing the expression profiles of signature genes in tumors. But there is no consensus on which genes should be used and the performance of specific set of signature genes varies greatly with different datasets, impeding their implementation in the routine clinical application. Instead of using individual genes, here we identified functional multi-gene modules with significant expression changes between recurrent and recurrence-free tumors, used them as the signatures for predicting colorectal cancer recurrence in multiple datasets that were collected independently and profiled on different microarray platforms. The multi-gene modules we identified have a significant enrichment of known genes and biological processes relevant to cancer development, including genes from the chemokine pathway. Most strikingly, they recruited a significant enrichment of somatic mutations found in colorectal cancer. These results confirmed the functional relevance of these modules for colorectal cancer development. Further, these functional modules from different datasets overlapped significantly. Finally, we demonstrated that, leveraging above information of these modules, our module based classifier avoided arbitrary fitting the classifier function and screening the signatures using the training data, and achieved more consistency in prognosis prediction across three independent datasets, which holds even using very small training sets of tumors.

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