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Front Physiol. 2016 Nov 22;7:568. eCollection 2016.

Transcriptional Network Architecture of Breast Cancer Molecular Subtypes.

Author information

1
Computational Genomics, National Institute of Genomic Medicine Mexico City, Mexico.
2
Computational Genomics, National Institute of Genomic MedicineMexico City, Mexico; Complejidad en Biología de Sistemas, Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico City, Mexico.

Abstract

Breast cancer heterogeneity is evident at the clinical, histological and molecular level. High throughput technologies allowed the identification of intrinsic subtypes that capture transcriptional differences among tumors. A remaining question is whether said differences are associated to a particular transcriptional program which involves different connections between the same molecules. In other words, whether particular transcriptional network architectures can be linked to specific phenotypes. In this work we infer, construct and analyze transcriptional networks from whole-genome gene expression microarrays, by using an information theory approach. We use 493 samples of primary breast cancer tissue classified in four molecular subtypes: Luminal A, Luminal B, Basal and HER2-enriched. For comparison, a network for non-tumoral mammary tissue (61 samples) is also inferred and analyzed. Transcriptional networks present particular architectures in each breast cancer subtype as well as in the non-tumor breast tissue. We find substantial differences between the non-tumor network and those networks inferred from cancer samples, in both structure and gene composition. More importantly, we find specific network architectural features associated to each breast cancer subtype. Based on breast cancer networks' centrality, we identify genes previously associated to the disease, either, generally (i.e., CNR2) or to a particular subtype (such as LCK). Similarly, we identify LUZP4, a gene barely explored in breast cancer, playing a role in transcriptional networks with subtype-specific relevance. With this approach we observe architectural differences between cancer and non-cancer at network level, as well as differences between cancer subtype networks which might be associated with breast cancer heterogeneity. The centrality measures of these networks allow us to identify genes with potential biomedical implications to breast cancer.

KEYWORDS:

breast cancer; clinical genomics; gene regulatory networks; molecular subtypes; network topology

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