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Mol Cell. 2009 Apr 10;34(1):104-14. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2009.02.030.

A genomic strategy to elucidate modules of oncogenic pathway signaling networks.

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Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke University Medical Center, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Recent studies have emphasized the importance of pathway-specific interpretations for understanding the functional relevance of gene alterations in human cancers. Although signaling activities are often conceptualized as linear events, in reality, they reflect the activity of complex functional networks assembled from modules that each respond to input signals. To acquire a deeper understanding of this network structure, we developed an approach to deconstruct pathways into modules represented by gene expression signatures. Our studies confirm that they represent units of underlying biological activity linked to known biochemical pathway structures. Importantly, we show that these signaling modules provide tools to dissect the complexity of oncogenic states that define disease outcomes as well as response to pathway-specific therapeutics. We propose that this model of pathway structure constitutes a framework to study the processes by which information propogates through cellular networks and to elucidate the relationships of fundamental modules to cellular and clinical phenotypes.

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