Background: Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) is one of the serious infectious diseases worldwide; however, the gene network involved in the host response remain largely unclear.
Methods: This study integrated two cohorts profile datasets GSE34608 and GSE83456 to elucidate the potential gene network and signaling pathways in PTB. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were obtained for Gene ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis using Metascape database. Protein-Protein Interaction (PPI) network of DEGs was constructed by the online database the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes (STRING). Modules were identified by the plug-in APP Molecular Complex Detection (MCODE) in Cytoscape. GO and KEGG pathway of Module 1 were further analyzed by STRING. Hub genes were selected for further expression validation in dataset GSE19439. The gene expression level was also investigated in the dataset GSE31348 to display the change pattern during the PTB treatment.
Results: Totally, 180 shared DEGs were identified from two datasets. Gene function and KEGG pathway enrichment revealed that DEGs mainly enriched in defense response to other organism, response to bacterium, myeloid leukocyte activation, cytokine production, etc. Seven modules were clustered based on PPI network. Module 1 contained 35 genes related to cytokine associated functions, among which 14 genes, including chemokine receptors, interferon-induced proteins and Toll-like receptors, were identified as hub genes. Expression levels of the hub genes were validated with a third dataset GSE19439. The signature of this core gene network showed significant response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection, and correlated with the gene network pattern during anti-PTB therapy.
Conclusions: Our study unveils the coordination of causal genes during PTB infection, and provides a promising gene panel for PTB diagnosis. As major regulators of the host immune response to Mtb infection, the 14 hub genes are also potential molecular targets for developing PTB drugs.