A Pipeline for Discovery of DNA methylation patterns in long non-coding RNAs


  • A systematic pipeline is proposed to discover methylation patterns for lncRNAs.
  • Subtype specific and common lncRNAs differ greatly in functions and structures.
  • Methylation modules enhances the accuracy of prediction of cancers.

Despite growing evidence demonstrates that the long non-coding ribonucleic acids (lncRNAs) are critical modulators for cancers, the knowledge about the DNA methylation patterns of lncRNAs is quite limited. Researchers at Xidian University have developed a systematic analysis pipeline to discover DNA methylation patterns for lncRNAs across multiple cancer subtypes from probe, gene and network levels. By using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) breast cancer methylation data, the pipeline discovers various DNA methylation patterns for lncRNAs across four major subtypes such as luminal A, luminal B, her2-enriched as well as basal-like. On the probe and gene level, the researchers found that both differentially methylated probes and lncRNAs are subtype specific, while the lncRNAs are not as specific as probes. On the network level, the pipeline constructs differential co-methylation lncRNA network for each subtype. Then, it identifies both subtype specific and common lncRNA modules by simultaneously analyzing multiple networks. They show that the lncRNAs in subtype specific and common modules differ greatly in terms of topological structure, sequence conservation as well as expression. Furthermore, the subtype specific lncRNA modules serve as biomarkers to improve significantly the accuracy of breast cancer subtypes prediction. Finally, the common lncRNA modules associate with survival time of patients, which is critical for cancer therapy.

Ma X, Yu L, Wang P, Yang X. (2017) Discovering DNA methylation patterns for long non-coding RNAs associated with cancer subtypes. Comput Biol Chem [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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