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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the Sixth Annual MCBIOS Conference. Transformational Bioinformatics: Delivering Value from Genomes

Open Access Proceedings

Computational analysis of gene expression space associated with metastatic cancer

Andrey Ptitsyn

Author Affiliations

Center for Bioinformatics, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Campus delivery 1682 Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

BMC Bioinformatics 2009, 10(Suppl 11):S6  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-S11-S6

Published: 8 October 2009



Prostate carcinoma is among the most common types of cancer affecting hundreds of thousands people every year. Once the metastatic form of prostate carcinoma is documented, the majority of patients die from their tumors as opposed to other causes. The key to successful treatment is in the earliest possible diagnosis, as well as understanding the molecular mechanisms of metastatic progression. A number of recent studies have identified multiple biomarkers for metastatic progression. However, most of the studies consider only direct comparison between metastatic and non-metastatic classes of samples.


We propose an alternative concept of analysis that considers the entire multidimensional space of gene expression and identifies the partition of this space in which metastatic development is possible. To apply this concept in cancer gene expression studies we utilize a modification of high-dimension natural taxonomy algorithm FOREL. Our analysis of microarray data containing primary and metastatic cancer samples has revealed not only differentially expressed genes, but also relations between different groups of primary and metastatic cancer. Metastatic samples tend to occupy a distinct partition of gene expression space. Further pathway analysis suggests that this partition is delineated by a specific pattern of gene expression in cytoskeleton remodeling, cell adhesion and apoptosis/cell survival pathways. We compare our findings with both report of original analysis and recent studies in molecular mechanism of metastasis.


Our analysis indicates a single molecular mechanism of metastasis. The new approach does not contradict previously reported findings, but reveals important details unattainable with traditional methodology.