Aberrant metabolism is one of the main driving forces in the initiation and development of ESCC. Both genes and metabolites play important roles in metabolic pathways. Integrative pathway analysis of both genes and metabolites will thus help to interpret the underlying biological phenomena. Here, we performed integrative pathway analysis of gene and metabolite profiles by analyzing six gene expression profiles and seven metabolite profiles of ESCC. Multiple known and novel subpathways associated with ESCC, such as 'beta-Alanine metabolism', were identified via the cooperative use of differential genes, differential metabolites, and their positional importance information in pathways. Furthermore, a global ESCC-Related Metabolic (ERM) network was constructed and 31 modules were identified on the basis of clustering analysis in the ERM network. We found that the three modules located just to the center regions of the ERM network-especially the core region of Module_1-primarily consisted of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) superfamily members, which contributes to the development of ESCC. For Module_4, pyruvate and the genes and metabolites in its adjacent region were clustered together, and formed a core region within the module. Several prognostic genes, including GPT, ALDH1B1, ABAT, WBSCR22 and MDH1, appeared in the three center modules of the network, suggesting that they can become potentially prognostic markers in ESCC.
Keywords: ESCC; metabolic pathway; network.