Identification of key candidate genes and biological pathways in bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer is a malignant tumor in the urinary system with high mortality and recurrence rates. However, the causes and recurrence mechanism of bladder cancer are not fully understood. In this study, we used integrated bioinformatics to screen for key genes associated with the development of bladder cancer and reveal their potential molecular mechanisms.

The GSE7476, GSE13507, GSE37815 and GSE65635 expression profiles were downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus database, and these datasets contain 304 tissue samples, including 81 normal bladder tissue samples and 223 bladder cancer samples. The RobustRankAggreg (RRA) method was utilized to integrate and analyze the four datasets to obtain integrated differentially expressed genes (DEGs), and the gene ontology (GO) functional annotation and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis were performed. Protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and module analyses were performed using Cytoscape software. The OncoLnc online tool was utilized to analyze the relationship between the expression of hub genes and the prognosis of bladder cancer.

In total, 343 DEGs, including 111 upregulated and 232 downregulated genes, were identified from the four datasets. GO analysis showed that the upregulated genes were mainly involved in mitotic nuclear division, the spindle and protein binding. The downregulated genes were mainly involved in cell adhesion, extracellular exosomes and calcium ion binding. The top five enriched pathways obtained in the KEGG pathway analysis were focal adhesion (FA), PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, proteoglycans in cancer, extracellular matrix (ECM)-receptor interaction and vascular smooth muscle contraction. The top 10 hub genes identified from the PPI network were vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), TOP2A, CCNB1, Cell division cycle 20 (CDC20), aurora kinase B, ACTA2, Aurora kinase A, UBE2C, CEP55 and CCNB2. Survival analysis revealed that the expression levels of ACTA2, CCNB1, CDC20 and VEGFA were related to the prognosis of patients with bladder cancer. In addition, a KEGG pathway analysis of the top 2 modules identified from the PPI network revealed that Module 1 mainly involved the cell cycle and oocyte meiosis, while the analysis in Module 2 mainly involved the complement and coagulation cascades, vascular smooth muscle contraction and FA.

This study identified key genes and pathways in bladder cancer, which will improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development and progression of bladder cancer. These key genes might be potential therapeutic targets and biomarkers for the treatment of bladder cancer.

PeerJ. 2018 Dec 04*** epublish ***

Xin Gao, Yinyi Chen, Mei Chen, Shunlan Wang, Xiaohong Wen, Shufang Zhang

Central Laboratory, Central South University Xiangya School of Medicine Affiliated Haikou Hospital, Haikou, China.