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PeerJ. 2018 Dec 7;6:e6092. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6092. eCollection 2018.

In silico analyses for potential key genes associated with gastric cancer.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Clinical College, Dali University, Dali, Yunnan, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, Clinical College, Dali University, Dali, Yunnan, China.
Contributed equally



Understanding hub genes involved in gastric cancer (GC) metastasis could lead to effective approaches to diagnose and treat cancer. In this study, we aim to identify the hub genes and investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms of GC.


To explore potential therapeutic targets for GC,three expression profiles (GSE54129, GSE33651, GSE81948) of the genes were extracted from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. The GEO2R online tool was applied to screen out differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between GC and normal gastric samples. Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery was applied to perform Gene Ontology (GO) and KEGG pathway enrichment analysis. The protein-protein interaction (PPI) network of these DEGs was constructed using a STRING online software. The hub genes were identified by the CytoHubba plugin of Cytoscape software. Then, the prognostic value of these identified genes was verified by gastric cancer database derived from Kaplan-Meier plotter platform.


A total of 85 overlapped upregulated genes and 44 downregulated genes were identified. The majority of the DEGs were enriched in extracellular matrix organization, endodermal cell differentiation, and endoderm formation. Moreover, five KEGG pathways were significantly enriched, including ECM-receptor interaction, amoebiasis, AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications, focal adhesion, protein digestion and absorption. By combining the results of PPI network and CytoHubba, a total of nine hub genes including COL1A1, THBS1, MMP2, CXCL8, FN1, TIMP1, SPARC, COL4A1, and ITGA5 were selected. The Kaplan-Meier plotter database confirmed that overexpression levels of these genes were associated with reduced overall survival, except for THBS1 and CXCL8.


Our study suggests that COL1A1, MMP2, FN1, TIMP1, SPARC, COL4A1, and ITGA5 may be potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for GC. Further study is needed to assess the effect of THBS1 and CXCL8 on GC.


Bioinformatics analysis; Gastric cancer; Hub genes; In silico

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