Computational Identification of Kinases That Control Axon Growth in Mouse.SLAS Discov. 2020 Aug; 25(7):792-800.SD
The determination of signaling pathways and transcriptional networks that control various biological processes is a major challenge from both basic science and translational medicine perspectives. Because such analysis can point to critical disease driver nodes to target for therapeutic purposes, we combined data from phenotypic screening experiments and gene expression studies of mouse neurons to determine information flow through a molecular interaction network using a network propagation approach. We hypothesized that differences in information flow between control and injured conditions prioritize relevant driver nodes that cause this state change. Identifying paths likely taken from potential source nodes to a set of transcription factors (TFs), called sinks, we found that kinases are enriched among source genes sending significantly different amounts of information to TFs in an axonal injury model. Additionally, TFs found to be differentially active during axon growth were enriched in the set of sink genes that received significantly altered amounts of information from source genes. Notably, such enrichment levels hold even when restricting the set of source genes to only those kinases observed to support or hamper neurite growth. That way, we found a set of 71 source genes that send significantly different levels of information to axon growth-relevant TFs. We analyzed their information flow changes in response to axonal injury and their influences on TFs predicted to facilitate or antagonize axon growth. Finally, we drew a network diagram of the interactions and changes in information flow between these source genes and their axon growth-relevant sink TFs.