Background: Pathway analysis has been widely used to gain insight into essential mechanisms of the response to myocardial infarction (MI). Currently, there exist multiple pathway databases that organize molecular datasets and manually curate pathway maps for biological interpretation at varying forms of organization. However, inconsistencies among different databases in pathway descriptions, frequently due to conflicting results in the literature, can generate incorrect interpretations. Furthermore, although pathway analysis software provides detailed images of interactions among molecules, it does not exhibit how pathways interact with one another or with other biological processes under specific conditions. Methods: We propose a novel method to standardize descriptions of enriched pathways for a set of genes/proteins using Gene Ontology terms. We used this method to examine the relationships among pathways and biological processes for a set of condition-specific genes/proteins, represented as a functional biological pathway-process network. We applied this algorithm to a set of 613 MI-specific proteins we previously identified. Results: A total of 96 pathways from Biocarta, KEGG, and Reactome, and 448 Gene Ontology Biological Processes were enriched with these 613 proteins. The pathways were represented as Boolean functions of biological processes, delivering an interactive scheme to organize enriched information with an emphasis on involvement of biological processes in pathways. We extracted a network focusing on MI to demonstrate that tyrosine phosphorylation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) protein, positive regulation of collagen metabolic process, coagulation, and positive/negative regulation of blood coagulation have immediate impacts on the MI response. Conclusions: Our method organized biological processes and pathways in an unbiased approach to provide an intuitive way to identify biological properties of pathways under specific conditions. Pathways from different databases have similar descriptions yet diverse biological processes, indicating variation in their ability to share similar functional characteristics. The coverages of pathways can be expanded with the incorporation of more biological processes, predicting involvement of protein members in pathways. Further, detailed analyses of the functional biological pathway-process network will allow researchers and scientists to explore critical routes in biological systems in the progression of disease.
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