Common and specific gene signatures among three different endometriosis subtypes

PeerJ. 2020 Mar 5:8:e8730. doi: 10.7717/peerj.8730. eCollection 2020.


Aims: To identify the common and specific molecular mechanisms of three well-defined subtypes of endometriosis (EMs): ovarian endometriosis (OE), peritoneal endometriosis (PE), and deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE).

Methods: Four microarray datasets: GSE7305 and GSE7307 for OE, E-MTAB-694 for PE, and GSE25628 for DIE were downloaded from public databases and conducted to compare ectopic lesions (EC) with eutopic endometrium (EU) from EMs patients. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) identified by limma package were divided into two parts: common DEGs among three subtypes and specific DEGs in each subtype, both of which were subsequently performed with the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis. The protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed by common DEGs and five hub genes were screened out from the PPI network. Besides, these five hub genes together with selected interested pathway-related genes were further validated in an independent OE RNA-sequencing dataset GSE105764.

Results: A total of 54 EC samples from three EMs subtypes (OE, PE, DIE) and 58 EU samples were analyzed, from which we obtained 148 common DEGs among three subtypes, and 729 specific DEGs in OE, 777 specific DEGs in PE and 36 specific DEGs in DIE. The most enriched pathway of 148 shared DEGs was arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism, in which most genes were up-regulated in EC, indicating inflammation was the most common pathogenesis of three subtypes. Besides, five hub genes AURKB, RRM2, DTL, CCNB1, CCNB2 identified from the PPI network constructed by 148 shared DEGs were all associated with cell cycle and mitosis, and down-regulated in EC, suggesting a slow and controlled proliferation in ectopic lesions. The KEGG pathway analysis of specific DEGs in each subtype revealed that abnormal ovarian steroidogenesis was a prominent feature in OE; OE and DIE seems to be at more risk of malignant development since both of their specific DEGs were enriched in the pathways in cancer, though enriched genes were different, while PE tended to be more associated with dysregulated peritoneal immune and inflammatory microenvironment.

Conclusion: By integrated bioinformatic analysis, we explored common and specific molecular signatures among different subtypes of endometriosis: activated arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism-related inflammatory process and a slow and controlled proliferation in ectopic lesions were common features in OE, PE and DIE; OE and DIE seemed to be at more risk of malignant development while PE tended to be more associated with dysregulated peritoneal immune and inflammatory microenvironment, all of which could deepen our perception of endometriosis.

Keywords: Bioinformatic analysis; Differentially expressed genes; Endometriosis; Microarray; Subtype.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81671437, 81771558) and Hunan Provincial Natural Science Foundation, China (2016JC2049). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.