Sparse canonical correlation to identify breast cancer related genes regulated by copy number aberrations

Diptavo Dutta, Ananda Sen, Jaya Satagopan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Copy number aberrations (CNAs) in cancer affect disease outcomes by regulating molecular phenotypes, such as gene expressions, that drive important biological processes. To gain comprehensive insights into molecular biomarkers for cancer, it is critical to identify key groups of CNAs, the associated gene modules, regulatory modules, and their downstream effect on outcomes. Methods In this paper, we demonstrate an innovative use of sparse canonical correlation analysis (sCCA) to effectively identify the ensemble of CNAs, and gene modules in the context of binary and censored disease endpoints. Our approach detects potentially orthogonal gene expression modules which are highly correlated with sets of CNA and then identifies the genes within these modules that are associated with the outcome. Results Analyzing clinical and genomic data on 1,904 breast cancer patients from the METABRIC study, we found 14 gene modules to be regulated by groups of proximally located CNA sites. We validated this finding using an independent set of 1,077 breast invasive carcinoma samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Our analysis of 7 clinical endpoints identified several novel and interpretable regulatory associations, highlighting the role of CNAs in key biological pathways and processes for breast cancer. Genes significantly associated with the outcomes were enriched for early estrogen response pathway, DNA repair pathways as well as targets of transcription factors such as E2F4, MYC, and ETS1 that have recognized roles in tumor characteristics and survival. Subsequent meta-analysis across the endpoints further identified several genes through the aggregation of weaker associations. Conclusions Our findings suggest that sCCA analysis can aggregate weaker associations to identify interpretable and important genes, modules, and clinically consequential pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0276886
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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