Objective Cancer can involve gene dysregulation via multiple mechanisms, so no single level of genomic data fully elucidates tumor behavior due to the presence of numerous genomic variations within or between levels in a biological system. We have previously proposed a graph-based integration approach that combines multi-omics data including copy number alteration, methylation, miRNA, and gene expression data for predicting clinical outcome in cancer. However, genomic features likely interact with other genomic features in complex signaling or regulatory networks, since cancer is caused by alterations in pathways or complete processes.
Methods Here we propose a new graph-based framework for integrating multi-omics data and genomic knowledge to improve power in predicting clinical outcomes and elucidate interplay between different levels. To highlight the validity of our proposed framework, we used an ovarian cancer dataset from The Cancer Genome Atlas for predicting stage, grade, and survival outcomes.
Results Integrating multi-omics data with genomic knowledge to construct pre-defined features resulted in higher performance in clinical outcome prediction and higher stability. For the grade outcome, the model with gene expression data produced an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.7866. However, models of the integration with pathway, Gene Ontology, chromosomal gene set, and motif gene set consistently outperformed the model with genomic data only, attaining AUCs of 0.7873, 0.8433, 0.8254, and 0.8179, respectively.
Conclusions Integrating multi-omics data and genomic knowledge to improve understanding of molecular pathogenesis and underlying biology in cancer should improve diagnostic and prognostic indicators and the effectiveness of therapies.