Background: A large number of gene expression profiling (GEP) studies on prognosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) has been performed, but no reliable gene signature for prediction of CRC prognosis has been found. Bioinformatic enrichment tools are a powerful approach to identify biological processes in high-throughput data analysis. Principal Findings: We have for the first time collected the results from the 23 so far published independent GEP studies on CRC prognosis. In these 23 studies, 1475 unique, mapped genes were identified, from which 124 (8.4%) were reported in at least two studies, with 54 of them showing consisting direction in expression change between the single studies. Using these data, we attempted to overcome the lack of reproducibility observed in the genes reported in individual GEP studies by carrying out a pathway-based enrichment analysis. We used up to ten tools for overrepresentation analysis of Gene Ontology (GO) categories or Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways in each of the three gene lists (1475, 124 and 54 genes). This strategy, based on testing multiple tools, allowed us to identify the oxidative phosphorylation chain and the extracellular matrix receptor interaction categories, as well as a general category related to cell proliferation and apoptosis, as the only significantly and consistently overrepresented pathways in the three gene lists, which were reported by several enrichment tools. Conclusions: Our pathway-based enrichment analysis of 23 independent gene expression profiling studies on prognosis of CRC identified significantly and consistently overrepresented prognostic categories for CRC. These overrepresented categories have been functionally clearly related with cancer progression, and deserve further investigation.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology