MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate disease-relevant metabolic pathways. However, most current pathway identification methods fail to consider miRNAs in addition to genes when analyzing pathways. We developed a powerful method called Subpathway-GMir to construct miRNA-regulated metabolic pathways and to identify miRNA-mediated subpathways by considering condition-specific genes, miRNAs, and pathway topologies. We used Subpathway-GMir to analyze two liver hepatocellular carcinomas (LIHC), one stomach adenocarcinoma (STAD), and one type 2 diabetes (T2D) data sets. Results indicate that Subpathway-GMir is more effective in identifying phenotype-associated metabolic pathways than other methods and our results are reproducible and robust. Subpathway-GMir provides a flexible platform for identifying abnormal metabolic subpathways mediated by miRNAs, and may help to clarify the roles that miRNAs play in a variety of diseases. The Subpathway-GMir method has been implemented as a freely available R package.
Keywords: cancer; mRNA; microRNA; pathway identification; regulation.