Topological analysis of biological pathways : genes, microRNAs and pathways involved in hepatocellular carcinoma

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Rewired biological pathways and/or rewired microRNA (miRNA)-mRNA interactions might also influence the activity of biological pathways. Here, rewired biological pathways is defined as differential (rewiring) effect of genes on the

Rewired biological pathways and/or rewired microRNA (miRNA)-mRNA interactions might also influence the activity of biological pathways. Here, rewired biological pathways is defined as differential (rewiring) effect of genes on the topology of biological pathways between controls and cases. Similarly, rewired miRNA-mRNA interactions are defined as the differential (rewiring) effects of miRNAs on the topology of biological pathways between controls and cases. In the dissertation, it is discussed that how rewired biological pathways (Chapter 1) and/or rewired miRNA-mRNA interactions (Chapter 2) aberrantly influence the activity of biological pathways and their association with disease.

This dissertation proposes two PageRank-based analytical methods, Pathways of Topological Rank Analysis (PoTRA) and miR2Pathway, discussed in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, respectively. PoTRA focuses on detecting pathways with an altered number of hub genes in corresponding pathways between two phenotypes. The basis for PoTRA is that the loss of connectivity is a common topological trait of cancer networks, as well as the prior knowledge that a normal biological network is a scale-free network whose degree distribution follows a power law where a small number of nodes are hubs and a large number of nodes are non-hubs. However, from normal to cancer, the process of the network losing connectivity might be the process of disrupting the scale-free structure of the network, namely, the number of hub genes might be altered in cancer compared to that in normal samples. Hence, it is hypothesized that if the number of hub genes is different in a pathway between normal and cancer, this pathway might be involved in cancer. MiR2Pathway focuses on quantifying the differential effects of miRNAs on the activity of a biological pathway when miRNA-mRNA connections are altered from normal to disease and rank disease risk of rewired miRNA-mediated biological pathways. This dissertation explores how rewired gene-gene interactions and rewired miRNA-mRNA interactions lead to aberrant activity of biological pathways, and rank pathways for their disease risk. The two methods proposed here can be used to complement existing genomics analysis methods to facilitate the study of biological mechanisms behind disease at the systems-level.