Background: Abnormal methylation of DNA sequences plays an important role in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer (PC). The purpose of this study was to identify abnormal methylation genes and related signaling pathways in PC by comprehensive bioinformatic analysis of three datasets in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO).
Methods: Datasets of gene expression microarrays (GSE91035, GSE15471) and gene methylation microarrays (GSE37480) were downloaded from the GEO database. Aberrantly methylated-differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were analysis by GEO2R software. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses of selected genes were performed using DAVID database. A protein–protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed by STRING and visualized in Cytoscape. Core module analysis was performed by Mcode in Cytoscape. Hub genes were obtained by CytoHubba app. in Cytoscape software.
Results: A total of 267 hypomethylation-high expression genes, which were enriched in biological processes of cell adhesion, biological adhesion and regulation of signaling were obtained. KEGG pathway enrichment showed ECM-receptor interaction, Focal adhesion and PI3K-Akt signaling pathway. The top 5 hub genes of PPI network were EZH2, CCNA2, CDC20, KIF11, UBE2C. As for hypermethylation-low expression genes, 202 genes were identified, which were enriched in biological processes of cellular amino acid biosynthesis process and positive regulation of PI3K activity, etc. The pathways enriched were the pancreatic secretion and biosynthesis of amino acids pathways, etc. The five significant hub genes were DLG3, GPT2, PLCB1, CXCL12 and GNG7. In addition, five genes, including CCNA2, KIF11, UBE2C, PLCB1 and GNG7, significantly associated with patient's prognosis were also identified.
Conclusion: Novel genes with abnormal expression were identified, which will help us further understand the molecular mechanism and related signaling pathways of PC, and these aberrant genes could possibly serve as biomarkers for precise diagnosis and treatment of PC.