3 years ago

Quantitative or qualitative transcriptional diagnostic signatures? A case study for colorectal cancer

Quantitative or qualitative transcriptional diagnostic signatures? A case study for colorectal cancer
Xianlong Wang, You Guo, Huaping Liu, Wenyuan Zhao, Yanhua Chen, Haidan Yan, Zheng Guo, Kai Song, Hao Cai, Baotong Zheng, Qingzhou Guan, Lu Ao, Jun He
Due to experimental batch effects, the application of a quantitative transcriptional signature for disease diagnoses commonly requires inter-sample data normalization, which would be hardly applicable under common clinical settings. Many cancers might have qualitative differences with the non-cancer states in the gene expression pattern. Therefore, it is reasonable to explore the power of qualitative diagnostic signatures which are robust against experimental batch effects and other random factors. Firstly, using data of technical replicate samples from the MicroArray Quality Control (MAQC) project, we demonstrated that the low-throughput PCR-based technologies also exist large measurement variations for gene expression even when the samples were measured in the same test site. Then, we demonstrated the critical limitation of low stability for classifiers based on quantitative transcriptional signatures in applications to individual samples through a case study using a support vector machine and a naïve Bayesian classifier to discriminate colorectal cancer tissues from normal tissues. To address this problem, we identified a signature consisting of three gene pairs for discriminating colorectal cancer tissues from non-cancer (normal and inflammatory bowel disease) tissues based on within-sample relative expression orderings (REOs) of these gene pairs. The signature was well verified using 22 independent datasets measured by different microarray and RNA_seq platforms, obviating the need of inter-sample data normalization. Subtle quantitative information of gene expression measurements tends to be unstable under current technical conditions, which will introduce uncertainty to clinical applications of the quantitative transcriptional diagnostic signatures. For diagnosis of disease states with qualitative transcriptional characteristics, the qualitative REO-based signatures could be robustly applied to individual samples measured by different platforms.
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