A Bayesian gene network reveals insight into the JAK-STAT pathway in systemic lupus erythematosus

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 2;14(12):e0225651. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225651. eCollection 2019.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, remitting, and relapsing, inflammatory disease involving multiple organs, which exhibits abnormalities of both the innate and adaptive immune responses. A limited number of transcriptomic studies have characterized the gene pathways involved in SLE in an attempt to identify the key pathogenic drivers of the disease. In order to further advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of SLE, we used a novel Bayesian network algorithm to hybridize knowledge- and data-driven methods, and then applied the algorithm to build an SLE gene network using transcriptomic data from 1,760 SLE patients' RNA from the two tabalumab Phase III trials (ILLUMINATE-I & -II), the largest SLE RNA dataset to date. Further, based on the gene network, we carried out hub- and key driver-gene analyses for gene prioritization. Our analyses identified that the JAK-STAT pathway genes, including JAK2, STAT1, and STAT2, played essential roles in SLE pathogenesis, and reaffirmed the recent discovery of pathogenic relevance of JAK-STAT signaling in SLE. Additionally, we showed that other genes, such as IRF1, IRF7, PDIA4, FAM72C, TNFSF10, DHX58, SIGLEC1, and PML, may be also important in SLE and serve as potential therapeutic targets for SLE. In summary, using a hybridized network construction approach, we systematically investigated gene-gene interactions based on their transcriptomic profiles, prioritized genes based on their importance in the network structure, and revealed new insights into SLE activity.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01205438 NCT01196091.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Computer Simulation
  • Data Mining
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase 2 / immunology
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • Linear Models
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / genetics*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor / immunology
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • STAT2 Transcription Factor / immunology
  • STAT2 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT1 protein, human
  • STAT2 Transcription Factor
  • STAT2 protein, human
  • JAK2 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 2

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01205438
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01196091