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1.  Cysteine- rich secretory protein 3 (CRISP3), ERG and PTEN define a molecular subtype of prostate cancer with implication to patients’ prognosis 
Cysteine- rich secretory protein 3 (CRISP3) prognostic significance in prostate cancer (PCA) has generated mixed result. Herein, we investigated and independently validated CRISP3 expression in relation to ERG and PTEN genomic aberrations and clinical outcome. CRISP3 protein expression was examined by immunohistochemistry using a cohort of patients with localized PCA (n = 215) and castration resistant PCA (CRPC) (n = 46). The Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSKCC) and Swedish cohorts were used for prognostic validation. Results showed, CRISP3 protein intensity to be significantly associated with neoplastic epithelium, being highest in CRPC vs. benign prostate tissue (p < 0.0001), but was not related to Gleason score (GS). CRISP3 mRNA was significantly associated with higher GS (p = 0.022 in MSKCC, p = 1.1e-4 in Swedish). Significant association between CRISP3 expression and clinical outcome was documented at the mRNA but not the protein expression levels. CRISP3 mRNA expression was related to biochemical recurrence in the MSKCC (p = 0.038) and lethal disease in the Swedish cohort (p = 0.0086) and retained its prognostic value in the subgroup of patients with GS 6 & 7. Furthermore, CRISP3 protein and mRNA expression was significantly associated with positive ERG status and with PTEN deletions. Functional biology analysis documented phenylalanine metabolism as the most significant pathway governing high CRISP3 and ERG expression in this subtype of PCA. In conclusion, the combined status of CRISP3, ERG and PTEN define a molecular subtype of PCA with poorest and lethal outcome. Assessing their combined value may be of added value in stratifying patients into different prognostic groups and identify those with poorest clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3975646  PMID: 24606912
CRISP3; ERG; PTEN; Biological pathways; Prostate cancer; Poorest outcome; Molecular subtypes
2.  Prediction of novel drug indications using network driven biological data prioritization and integration 
With the rapid development of high-throughput genomic technologies and the accumulation of genome-wide datasets for gene expression profiling and biological networks, the impact of diseases and drugs on gene expression can be comprehensively characterized. Drug repositioning offers the possibility of reduced risks in the drug discovery process, thus it is an essential step in drug development.
Computational prediction of drug-disease interactions using gene expression profiling datasets and biological networks is a new direction in drug repositioning that has gained increasing interest. We developed a computational framework to build disease-drug networks using drug- and disease-specific subnetworks. The framework incorporates protein networks to refine drug and disease associated genes and prioritize genes in disease and drug specific networks. For each drug and disease we built multiple networks using gene expression profiling and text mining. Finally a logistic regression model was used to build functional associations between drugs and diseases.
We found that representing drugs and diseases by genes with high centrality degree in gene networks is the most promising representation of drug or disease subnetworks.
PMCID: PMC3896815  PMID: 24397863
Disease; Drug; Gene; Protein networks
3.  Coordinate MicroRNA-Mediated Regulation of Protein Complexes in Prostate Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84261.
MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding regulatory RNA molecules that regulate mRNAs post-transcriptionally. Recent evidence has shown that miRNAs target entire functionally related proteins such as protein complexes and biological pathways. However, characterizing the influence of miRNAs on genes whose encoded proteins are part of protein complexes has not been studied in the context of disease. We propose an entropy-based framework to identify miRNA-mediated dysregulation of functionally related proteins during prostate cancer progression. The proposed framework uses experimentally verified miRNA-target interactions, functionally related proteins and expression data to identify miRNA-influenced protein complexes in prostate cancer, and identify genes that are dysregulated as a result. The framework constructs correlation matrixes between functionally related proteins and miRNAs that have targets in the complex, and assesses the changes in the Shannon entropy of the modules across different stages of prostate cancer. Results reveal that SMAD4 and HDAC containing protein complexes are highly affected and disrupted by miRNAs, particularly miRNA-1 and miRNA-16. Using biological pathways to define functionally related proteins reveals that NF-kB-, RAS-, and Syndecan-mediated pathways are dysregulated due to miRNA-1- and miRNA-16-mediated regulation. These results suggest that miRNA-1 and miRNA-16 are important master regulators of miRNA-mediated regulation in prostate cancer. Moreover, results reveal that miRNAs with high-influence on the disrupted protein complexes are diagnostic and prognostic biomarker candidates for prostate cancer progression. The observation of miRNA-mediated protein complex regulation and miRNA-mediated pathway regulation, with partial experimental verification from previous studies, demonstrates that our framework is a promising approach for the identification of novel miRNAs and protein complexes related to disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3877262  PMID: 24391925
4.  Using context-specific effect of miRNAs to identify functional associations between miRNAs and gene signatures 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 12):S1.
MicroRNAs are a class of short regulatory RNAs that act as post-transcriptional fine-tune regulators of a large host of genes that play key roles in many cellular processes and signaling pathways. A useful step for understanding their functional role is characterizing their influence on the protein context of the targets. Using miRNA context-specific influence as a functional signature is promising to identify functional associations between miRNAs and other gene signatures, and thus advance our understanding of miRNA mode of action.
In the current study we utilized the power of regularized regression models to construct functional associations between gene signatures. Genes that are influenced by miRNAs directly(computational miRNA target prediction) or indirectly (protein partners of direct targets) are defined as functional miRNA gene signature. The combined direct and indirect miRNA influence is defined as context-specific effects of miRNAs, and is used to identify regulatory effects of miRNAs on curated gene signatures. Elastic-net regression was used to build functional associations between context-specific effect of miRNAs and other gene signatures (disease, pathway signatures) by identifying miRNAs whose targets are enriched in gene lists. As a proof of concept, elastic-net regression was applied on lists of genes downregulated upon pre-miRNA transfection, and successfully identified the treated miRNA. This model was then extended to construct functional relationships between miRNAs and disease and pathway gene lists. Integrating context-specific effects of miRNAs on a protein network reveals more significant miRNA enrichment in prostate gene signatures compared to miRNA direct targets. The model identified novel list of miRNAs that are associated with prostate clinical variables.
Elastic-net regression is used as a model to construct functional associations between miRNA signatures and other gene signatures. Defining miRNA context-specific functional gene signature by integrating the downstream effect of miRNAs demonstrates better performance compared to the miRNA signature alone (direct targets). miRNA functional signatures can greatly facilitate miRNA research to uncover new functional associations between miRNAs and diseases, drugs or pathways.
PMCID: PMC3848857  PMID: 24267745
5.  Protein network-based Lasso regression model for the construction of disease-miRNA functional interactions 
There is a growing body of evidence associating microRNAs (miRNAs) with human diseases. MiRNAs are new key players in the disease paradigm demonstrating roles in several human diseases. The functional association between miRNAs and diseases remains largely unclear and far from complete. With the advent of high-throughput functional genomics techniques that infer genes and biological pathways dysregulted in diseases, it is now possible to infer functional association between diseases and biological molecules by integrating disparate biological information.
Here, we first used Lasso regression model to identify miRNAs associated with disease signature as a proof of concept. Then we proposed an integrated approach that uses disease-gene associations from microarray experiments and text mining, and miRNA-gene association from computational predictions and protein networks to build functional associations network between miRNAs and diseases. The findings of the proposed model were validated against gold standard datasets using ROC analysis and results were promising (AUC=0.81). Our protein network-based approach discovered 19 new functional associations between prostate cancer and miRNAs. The new 19 associations were validated using miRNA expression data and clinical profiles and showed to act as diagnostic and prognostic prostate biomarkers. The proposed integrated approach allowed us to reconstruct functional associations between miRNAs and human diseases and uncovered functional roles of newly discovered miRNAs.
Lasso regression was used to find associations between diseases and miRNAs using their gene signature. Defining miRNA gene signature by integrating the downstream effect of miRNAs demonstrated better performance than the miRNA signature alone. Integrating biological networks and multiple data to define miRNA and disease gene signature demonstrated high performance to uncover new functional associations between miRNAs and diseases.
PMCID: PMC3606436  PMID: 23339438
miRNA; Protein interactions; Systems biology; Disease; Regression modeling
6.  MicroRNA Response Elements-Mediated miRNA-miRNA Interactions in Prostate Cancer 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2012;2012:839837.
The cell is a highly organized system of interacting molecules including proteins, mRNAs, and miRNAs. Analyzing the cell from a systems perspective by integrating different types of data helps revealing the complexity of diseases. Although there is emerging evidence that microRNAs have a functional role in cancer, the role of microRNAs in mediating cancer progression and metastasis remains not fully explored. As the amount of available miRNA and mRNA gene expression data grows, more systematic methods combining gene expression and biological networks become necessary to explore miRNA function. In this work I integrated functional miRNA-target interactions with mRNA and miRNA expression to infer mRNA-mediated miRNA-miRNA interactions. The inferred network represents miRNA modulation through common targets. The network is used to characterize the functional role of microRNA response element (MRE) to mediate interactions between miRNAs targeting the MRE. Results revealed that miRNA-1 is a key player in regulating prostate cancer progression. 11 miRNAs were identified as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers that act as tumor suppressor miRNAs. This work demonstrates the utility of a network analysis as opposed to differential expression to find important miRNAs that regulate prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3502784  PMID: 23193399
7.  Detecting microRNAs of high influence on protein functional interaction networks: a prostate cancer case study 
BMC Systems Biology  2012;6:112.
The use of biological molecular network information for diagnostic and prognostic purposes and elucidation of molecular disease mechanism is a key objective in systems biomedicine. The network of regulatory miRNA-target and functional protein interactions is a rich source of information to elucidate the function and the prognostic value of miRNAs in cancer. The objective of this study is to identify miRNAs that have high influence on target protein complexes in prostate cancer as a case study. This could provide biomarkers or therapeutic targets relevant for prostate cancer treatment.
Our findings demonstrate that a miRNA’s functional role can be explained by its target protein connectivity within a physical and functional interaction network. To detect miRNAs with high influence on target protein modules, we integrated miRNA and mRNA expression profiles with a sequence based miRNA-target network and human functional and physical protein interactions (FPI). miRNAs with high influence on target protein complexes play a role in prostate cancer progression and are promising diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers. We uncovered several miRNA-regulated protein modules which were enriched in focal adhesion and prostate cancer genes. Several miRNAs such as miR-96, miR-182, and miR-143 demonstrated high influence on their target protein complexes and could explain most of the gene expression changes in our analyzed prostate cancer data set.
We describe a novel method to identify active miRNA-target modules relevant to prostate cancer progression and outcome. miRNAs with high influence on protein networks are valuable biomarkers that can be used in clinical investigations for prostate cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3490713  PMID: 22929553
MiRNA; Protein interactions; Systems biology; High-influence miRNA
8.  Detecting Cancer Outlier Genes with Potential Rearrangement Using Gene Expression Data and Biological Networks 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2012;2012:373506.
Gene alterations are a major component of the landscape of tumor genomes. To assess the significance of these alterations in the development of prostate cancer, it is necessary to identify these alterations and analyze them from systems biology perspective. Here, we present a new method (EigFusion) for predicting outlier genes with potential gene rearrangement. EigFusion demonstrated excellent performance in identifying outlier genes with potential rearrangement by testing it to synthetic and real data to evaluate performance. EigFusion was able to identify previously unrecognized genes such as FABP5 and KCNH8 and confirmed their association with primary and metastatic prostate samples while confirmed the metastatic specificity for other genes such as PAH, TOP2A, and SPINK1. We performed protein network based approaches to analyze the network context of potential rearranged genes. Functional gene rearrangement Modules are constructed by integrating functional protein networks. Rearranged genes showed to be highly connected to well-known altered genes in cancer such as AR, RB1, MYC, and BRCA1. Finally, using clinical outcome data of prostate cancer patients, potential rearranged genes demonstrated significant association with prostate cancer specific death.
PMCID: PMC3394389  PMID: 22811706

Results 1-8 (8)