Epistasis in genomic and survival data of cancer patients
by Dariusz Matlak, Ewa SzczurekCancer aggressiveness and its effect on patient survival depends on mutations in the tumor genome. Epistatic interactions between the mutated genes may guide the choice of anticancer therapy and set predictive factors of its success. Inhibitors targeting synthetic lethal partners of genes mutated in tumors are already utilized for efficient and specific treatment in the clinic. The space of possible epistatic interactions, however, is overwhelming, and computational methods are needed to limit the experimental effort of validating the interactions for therapy and characterizing their biomarkers. Here, we introduce SurvLRT, a statistical likelihood ratio test for identifying epistatic gene pairs and triplets from cancer patient genomic and survival data. Compared to established approaches, SurvLRT performed favorable in predicting known, experimentally verified synthetic lethal partners of PARP1 from TCGA data. Our approach is the first to test for epistasis between triplets of genes to identify biomarkers of synthetic lethality-based therapy. SurvLRT proved successful in identifying the known gene TP53BP1 as the biomarker of success of the therapy targeting PARP in BRCA1 deficient tumors. Search for other biomarkers for the same interaction revealed a region whose deletion was a more significant biomarker than deletion of TP53BP1. With the ability to detect not only pairwise but twelve different types of triple epistasis, applicability of SurvLRT goes beyond cancer therapy, to the level of characterization of shapes of fitness landscapes.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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