Identification of monotonically expressed long non-coding RNA signatures for breast cancer using variational autoencoders

Dongjiao Wang, Ling Gao, Xinliang Gao, Chi Wang, Suyan Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As breast cancer is a multistage progression disease resulting from a genetic sequence of mutations, understanding the genes whose expression values increase or decrease monotonically across pathologic stages can provide insightful clues about how breast cancer initiates and advances. Utilizing variational autoencoder (VAE) networks in conjunction with traditional statistical testing, we successfully ascertain long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that exhibit monotonically differential expression values in breast cancer. Subsequently, we validate that the identified lncRNAs really present monotonically changed patterns. The proposed procedure identified 248 monotonically decreasing expressed and 115 increasing expressed lncRNAs. They correspond to a total of 65 and 33 genes respectively, which possess unique known gene symbols. Some of them are associated with breast cancer, as suggested by previous studies. Furthermore, enriched pathways by the target mRNAs of these identified lncRNAs include the Wnt signaling pathway, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and Rap 1 signaling pathway, which have been shown to play crucial roles in the initiation and development of breast cancer. Additionally, we trained a VAE model using the entire dataset. To assess the effectiveness of the identified lncRNAs, a microarray dataset was employed as the test set. The results obtained from this evaluation were deemed satisfactory. In conclusion, further experimental validation of these lncRNAs with a large-sized study is warranted, and the proposed procedure is highly recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0289971
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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