Correlation-based network generation, visualization, and analysis as a powerful tool in biological studies: a case study in cancer cell metabolism Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • In the last decade vast data sets are being generated in biological and medical studies. The challenge lies in their summary, complexity reduction, and interpretation. Correlation-based networks and graph-theory based properties of this type of networks can be successfully used during this process. However, the procedure has its pitfalls and requires specific knowledge that often lays beyond classical biology and includes many computational tools and software. Here we introduce one of a series of methods for correlation-based network generation and analysis using freely available software. The pipeline allows the user to control each step of the network generation and provides flexibility in selection of correlation methods and thresholds. The pipeline was implemented on published metabolomics data of a population of human breast carcinoma cell lines MDA-MB-231 under two conditions: normal and hypoxia. The analysis revealed significant differences between the metabolic networks in response to the tested conditions. The network under hypoxia had 1.7 times more significant correlations between metabolites, compared to normal conditions. Unique metabolic interactions were identified which could lead to the identification of improved markers or aid in elucidating the mechanism of regulation between distantly related metabolites induced by the cancer growth.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016