Cancer cells are adept at reprogramming energy metabolism and the precise manifestation of this metabolic reprogramming exhibits heterogeneity across individuals (and from cell to cell). In this study, we analyzed the metabolic differences between interpersonal heterogeneous cancer phenotypes. We used divergence analysis on gene expression data of 1156 breast normal and tumor samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and integrated this information with a genome-scale reconstruction of human metabolism to generate personalized, context-specific metabolic networks. Using this approach, we classified the samples into four distinct groups based on their metabolic profiles. Enrichment analysis of the subsystems indicated that amino acid metabolism, fatty acid oxidation, citric acid cycle, androgen and estrogen metabolism and ROS detoxification distinguished these four groups. Additionally, we developed a workflow to identify potential drugs that can selectively target genes associated with the reactions of interest. MG-132 (a proteasome inhibitor) and OSU-03012 (a celecoxib derivative) were the top-ranking drugs identified from our analysis and known to have anti-tumor activity. Our approach has the potential to provide mechanistic insights into cancer-specific metabolic dependencies, ultimately enabling the identification of potential drug targets for each patient independently, contributing to a rational personalized medicine approach.
Breast cancer, genome-scale metabolic models, constraint-based analysis, divergence analysis, gene expression, metabolism, drug targets, personalized metabolic networks.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.