Pan-Cancer and Single-Cell Modeling of Genomic Alterations Through Gene Expression

Front Genet. 2019 Jul 18;10:671. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00671. eCollection 2019.


Cancer is a disease often characterized by the presence of multiple genomic alterations, which trigger altered transcriptional patterns and gene expression, which in turn sustain the processes of tumorigenesis, tumor progression, and tumor maintenance. The links between genomic alterations and gene expression profiles can be utilized as the basis to build specific molecular tumorigenic relationships. In this study, we perform pan-cancer predictions of the presence of single somatic mutations and copy number variations using machine learning approaches on gene expression profiles. We show that gene expression can be used to predict genomic alterations in every tumor type, where some alterations are more predictable than others. We propose gene aggregation as a tool to improve the accuracy of alteration prediction models from gene expression profiles. Ultimately, we show how this principle can be beneficial in intrinsically noisy datasets, such as those based on single-cell sequencing.

Keywords: NGS (next generation sequencing); TCGA; cancer; genomics; single-cell sequencing.