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Integrative analysis with expanded DNA methylation data reveals common key regulators and pathways in cancers

By Shicai Fan, Jianxiong Tang, Nan Li, Ying Zhao, Rizi Ai, Kai Zhang, Mengchi Wang, Wei Du, Wei Wang

Posted 18 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/491845 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41525-019-0077-8)

The integration of genomic and DNA methylation data has been demonstrated as a powerful strategy in understanding cancer mechanisms and identifying therapeutic targets. The TCGA consortium has mapped DNA methylation in thousands of cancer samples using Illumina Infinium Human Methylation 450K BeadChip (Illumina 450K array) that only covers about 1.5% of CpGs in the human genome. Therefore, increasing the coverage of the DNA methylome would significantly leverage the usage of the TCGA data. Here, we present a new model called EAGLING that can expand the Illumina 450K array data 18 times to cover about 30% of the CpGs in the human genome. We applied it to analyze 13 cancers in TCGA. By integrating the expanded methylation, gene expression and somatic mutation data, we identified the genes showing differential patterns in each of the 13 cancers. Many of the triple-evidenced genes identified in the majority of the cancers are biomarkers or potential biomarkers. Pan-cancer analysis also revealed the pathways in which the triple-evidenced genes are enriched, which include well known ones as well as new ones such as axonal guidance signaling pathway and pathways related to inflammatory processing or inflammation response. Triple-evidenced genes, particularly TNXB, RRM2, CELSR3, SLC16A3, FANCI, MMP9, MMP11, SIK1, TRIM59, showed superior predictive power in both tumor diagnosis and prognosis. These results have demonstrated that the integrative analysis using the expanded methylation data is powerful in identifying critical genes/pathways that may serve as new therapeutic targets.

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