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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An integrative multi-dimensional genetic and epigenetic strategy to identify aberrant genes and pathways in cancer

Raj Chari*, Bradley P Coe, Emily A Vucic, William W Lockwood and Wan L Lam

Author Affiliations

Department of Integrative Oncology, BC Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Systems Biology 2010, 4:67  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-67

Published: 17 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Genomics has substantially changed our approach to cancer research. Gene expression profiling, for example, has been utilized to delineate subtypes of cancer, and facilitated derivation of predictive and prognostic signatures. The emergence of technologies for the high resolution and genome-wide description of genetic and epigenetic features has enabled the identification of a multitude of causal DNA events in tumors. This has afforded the potential for large scale integration of genome and transcriptome data generated from a variety of technology platforms to acquire a better understanding of cancer.

Results

Here we show how multi-dimensional genomics data analysis would enable the deciphering of mechanisms that disrupt regulatory/signaling cascades and downstream effects. Since not all gene expression changes observed in a tumor are causal to cancer development, we demonstrate an approach based on multiple concerted disruption (MCD) analysis of genes that facilitates the rational deduction of aberrant genes and pathways, which otherwise would be overlooked in single genomic dimension investigations.

Conclusions

Notably, this is the first comprehensive study of breast cancer cells by parallel integrative genome wide analyses of DNA copy number, LOH, and DNA methylation status to interpret changes in gene expression pattern. Our findings demonstrate the power of a multi-dimensional approach to elucidate events which would escape conventional single dimensional analysis and as such, reduce the cohort sample size for cancer gene discovery.