Network Analysis of Human Genes Influencing Susceptibility to Mycobacterial Infections

PLoS One. 2016 Jan 11;11(1):e0146585. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146585. eCollection 2016.


Tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections constitute a high burden of pulmonary disease in humans, resulting in over 1.5 million deaths per year. Building on the premise that genetic factors influence the instance, progression, and defense of infectious disease, we undertook a systems biology approach to investigate relationships among genetic factors that may play a role in increased susceptibility or control of mycobacterial infections. We combined literature and database mining with network analysis and pathway enrichment analysis to examine genes, pathways, and networks, involved in the human response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections. This approach allowed us to examine functional relationships among reported genes, and to identify novel genes and enriched pathways that may play a role in mycobacterial susceptibility or control. Our findings suggest that the primary pathways and genes influencing mycobacterial infection control involve an interplay between innate and adaptive immune proteins and pathways. Signaling pathways involved in autoimmune disease were significantly enriched as revealed in our networks. Mycobacterial disease susceptibility networks were also examined within the context of gene-chemical relationships, in order to identify putative drugs and nutrients with potential beneficial immunomodulatory or anti-mycobacterial effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Computational Biology
  • Data Mining
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mycobacterium Infections / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tuberculosis / genetics