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Genome-wide analysis of NGS data to compile cancer-specific panels of miRNA biomarkers

MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that influence gene expression by binding to the 3’ UTR of target mRNAs in order to repress protein synthesis. Soon after discovery, microRNA dysregulation has been associated to several pathologies. In particular, they have often been reported as differentially expressed in healthy and tumor samples. This fact suggested that microRNAs are likely to be good candidate biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and personalized medicine. With the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), measuring the expression level of the whole miRNAome at once is now routine. Yet, the collaborative effort of sharing data opens to the possibility of population analyses. This context motivated us to perform an in-silico study to distill cancer-specific panels of microRNAs that can serve as biomarkers. We observed that the problem of finding biomarkers can be modeled as a two-class classification task where, given the miRNAomes of a population of healthy and cancerous samples, we want to find the subset of microRNAs that leads to the highest classification accuracy. We fulfill this task leveraging on a sensible combination of data mining tools. In particular, we used: differential evolution for candidate selection, component analysis to preserve the relationships among miRNAs, and SVM for sample classification. We identified 10 cancer-specific panels whose classification accuracy is always higher than 92%. These panels have a very little overlap suggesting that miRNAs are not only predictive of the onset of cancer, but can be used for classification purposes as well. We experimentally validated the contribution of each of the employed tools to the selection of discriminating miRNAs. Moreover, we tested the significance of each panel for the corresponding cancer type. In particular, enrichment analysis showed that the selected miRNAs are involved in oncogenesis pathways, while survival analysis proved that miRNAs can be used to evaluate cancer severity. Summarizing: results demonstrated that our method is able to produce cancer-specific panels that are promising candidates for a subsequent in vitro validation.
Plos ONE, 2018

External authors: Shib Sankar Bhowmick (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata), Indrajit Saha (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research, Kolkata, India)
IIT authors:

Loredana Marialuisa Genovese

Foto di Loredana Marialuisa Genovese

Type: Contributo in rivista ISI
Field of reference: Information Technology and Communication Systems

File: Plos-one-18.pdf

Activity: Biologia computazionale