Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



PLoS ONE 5(10): e13696


Copyright 2010 Xu et al.

Open access



A comparative study of public gene-expression data of seven types of cancers (breast, colon, kidney, lung, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers) was conducted with the aim of deriving marker genes, along with associated pathways, that are either common to multiple types of cancers or specific to individual cancers. The analysis results indicate that (a) each of the seven cancer types can be distinguished from its corresponding control tissue based on the expression patterns of a small number of genes, e.g., 2, 3 or 4; (b) the expression patterns of some genes can distinguish multiple cancer types from their corresponding control tissues, potentially serving as general markers for all or some groups of cancers; (c) the proteins encoded by some of these genes are predicted to be blood secretory, thus providing potential cancer markers in blood; (d) the numbers of differentially expressed genes across different cancer types in comparison with their control tissues correlate well with the five-year survival rates associated with the individual cancers; and (e) some metabolic and signaling pathways are abnormally activated or deactivated across all cancer types, while other pathways are more specific to certain cancers or groups of cancers. The novel findings of this study offer considerable insight into these seven cancer types and have the potential to provide exciting new directions for diagnostic and therapeutic development.