Elucidation of dynamic microRNA regulations in cancer progression using integrative machine learning

Haluk Dogan, Zeynep Hakguder, Roland Madadjim, Stephen Scott, Massimiliano Pierobon, Juan Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Motivation: Empowered by advanced genomics discovery tools, recent biomedical research has produced a massive amount of genomic data on (post-)transcriptional regulations related to transcription factors, microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs, epigenetic modifications and genetic variations. Computational modeling, as an essential research method, has generated promising testable quantitative models that represent complex interplay among different gene regulatory mechanisms based on these data in many biological systems. However, given the dynamic changes of interactome in chaotic systems such as cancers, and the dramatic growth of heterogeneous data on this topic, such promise has encountered unprecedented challenges in terms of model complexity and scalability. In this study, we introduce a new integrative machine learning approach that can infer multifaceted gene regulations in cancers with a particular focus on microRNA regulation. In addition to new strategies for data integration and graphical model fusion, a supervised deep learning model was integrated to identify conditional microRNA-mRNA interactions across different cancer stages. Results: In a case study of human breast cancer, we have identified distinct gene regulatory networks associated with four progressive stages. The subsequent functional analysis focusing on microRNA-mediated dysregulation across stages has revealed significant changes in major cancer hallmarks, as well as novel pathological signaling and metabolic processes, which shed light on microRNAs' regulatory roles in breast cancer progression. We believe this integrative model can be a robust and effective discovery tool to understand key regulatory characteristics in complex biological systems. Availability: http://sbbi-panda.unl.edu/pin/

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbbab270
JournalBriefings in bioinformatics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Bayesian network
  • Gaussian process
  • Markov random field
  • functional analysis
  • gene regulatory network
  • graphical models
  • miRNA binding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology


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