Prognostic value and co-expression patterns of metabolic pathways in cancers

BMC Genomics. 2020 Dec 29;21(Suppl 11):860. doi: 10.1186/s12864-020-07251-0.


Background: Abnormal metabolic pathways have been considered as one of the hallmarks of cancer. While numerous metabolic pathways have been studied in various cancers, the direct link between metabolic pathway gene expression and cancer prognosis has not been established.

Results: Using two recently developed bioinformatics analysis methods, we evaluated the prognosis potential of metabolic pathway expression and tumor-vs-normal dysregulations for up to 29 metabolic pathways in 33 cancer types. Results show that increased metabolic gene expression within tumors corresponds to poor cancer prognosis. Meta differential co-expression analysis identified four metabolic pathways with significant global co-expression network disturbance between tumor and normal samples. Differential expression analysis of metabolic pathways also demonstrated strong gene expression disturbance between paired tumor and normal samples.

Conclusion: Taken together, these results strongly suggested that metabolic pathway gene expressions are disturbed after tumorigenesis. Within tumors, many metabolic pathways are upregulated for tumor cells to activate corresponding metabolisms to sustain the required energy for cell division.

Keywords: Cancer; Gene expression composite score; Meta co-expression analysis; Metabolic pathway.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Computational Biology
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Prognosis