Inferring Personalized and Race-Specific Causal Effects of Genomic Aberrations on Gleason Scores: A Deep Latent Variable Model.

Extensive research has examined socioeconomic factors influencing prostate cancer (PCa) disparities. However, to what extent molecular and genetic mechanisms may also contribute to these inequalities still remains elusive. Although various in vitro, in vivo, and population studies have originated to address this issue, they are often very costly and time-consuming by nature. In this work, we attempt to explore this problem by a preliminary study, where a joint deep latent variable model (DLVM) is proposed to in silico quantify the personalized and race-specific effects that a genomic aberration may exert on the Gleason Score (GS) of each individual PCa patient. The core of the proposed model is a deep variational autoencoder (VAE) framework, which follows the causal structure of inference with proxies. Extensive experimental results on The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) 270 European-American (EA) and 43 African-American (AA) PCa patients demonstrate that ERG fusions, somatic mutations in SPOP and ATM, and copy number alterations (CNAs) in ERG are the statistically significant genomic factors across all low-, intermediate-, and high-grade PCa that may explain the disparities between these two groups. Moreover, compared to a state-of-the-art deep inference method, our proposed method achieves much higher precision in causal effect inference in terms of the impact of a studied genomic aberration on GS. Further validation on an independent set and the assessment of the genomic-risk scores along with corresponding confidence intervals not only validate our results but also provide valuable insight to the observed racial disparity between these two groups regarding PCa metastasis. The pinpointed significant genomic factors may shed light on the molecular mechanism of cancer disparities in PCa and warrant further investigation.

Frontiers in oncology. 2020 Mar 13*** epublish ***

Zhong Chen, Andrea Edwards, Chindo Hicks, Kun Zhang

Department of Computer Science, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA, United States., Department of Genetics, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, United States.