Assessment of FBA Based Gene Essentiality Analysis in Cancer with a Fast Context-Specific Network Reconstruction Method.

PloS one

PubMedID: 27145226

Tobalina L, Pey J, Rezola A, Planes FJ. Assessment of FBA Based Gene Essentiality Analysis in Cancer with a Fast Context-Specific Network Reconstruction Method. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(5):e0154583.
MOTIVATION
Gene Essentiality Analysis based on Flux Balance Analysis (FBA-based GEA) is a promising tool for the identification of novel metabolic therapeutic targets in cancer. The reconstruction of cancer-specific metabolic networks, typically based on gene expression data, constitutes a sensible step in this approach. However, to our knowledge, no extensive assessment on the influence of the reconstruction process on the obtained results has been carried out to date.

RESULTS
In this article, we aim to study context-specific networks and their FBA-based GEA results for the identification of cancer-specific metabolic essential genes. To that end, we used gene expression datasets from the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE), evaluating the results obtained in 174 cancer cell lines. In order to more clearly observe the effect of cancer-specific expression data, we did the same analysis using randomly generated expression patterns. Our computational analysis showed some essential genes that are fairly common in the reconstructions derived from both gene expression and randomly generated data. However, though of limited size, we also found a subset of essential genes that are very rare in the randomly generated networks, while recurrent in the sample derived networks, and, thus, would presumably constitute relevant drug targets for further analysis. In addition, we compare the in-silico results to high-throughput gene silencing experiments from Project Achilles with conflicting results, which leads us to raise several questions, particularly the strong influence of the selected biomass reaction on the obtained results. Notwithstanding, using previous literature in cancer research, we evaluated the most relevant of our targets in three different cancer cell lines, two derived from Gliobastoma Multiforme and one from Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, finding that some of the predictions are in the right track.