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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Dec 2022 - 9 Dec 2022


Front Genet


Identification of susceptibility modules and hub genes of osteoarthritis by WGCNA analysis.


Wang Y, Zhou W, Chen Y, He D, Qin Z, Wang Z, Liu S, Zhou L, Su J, Zhang C
Front Genet. 2022; 13:1036156.
PMID: 36468029.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major cause of pain, disability, and social burden in the elderly throughout the world. Although many studies focused on the molecular mechanism of OA, its etiology remains unclear. Therefore, more biomarkers need to be explored to help early diagnosis, clinical outcome measurement, and new therapeutic target development. Our study aimed to retrieve the potential hub genes of osteoarthritis (OA) by weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) and assess their clinical utility for predicting OA. Here, we integrated WGCNA to identify novel OA susceptibility modules and hub genes. In this study, we first selected 477 and 834 DEGs in the GSE1919 and the GSE55235 databases, respectively, from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) website. Genes with -value<0.05 and | logFC | > 1 were included in our analysis. Then, WGCNA was conducted to build a gene co-expression network, which filtered out the most relevant modules and screened out 23 overlapping WGCNA-derived hub genes. Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analyses elucidated that these hub genes were associated with cell adhesion molecules pathway, leukocyte activation, and inflammatory response. In addition, we conducted the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network in 23 hub genes, and the top four upregulated hub genes were sorted out (CD4, SELL, ITGB2, and CD52). Moreover, our nomogram model showed good performance in predicting the risk of OA (C-index = 0.76), and this model proved to be efficient in diagnosis by ROC curves (AUC = 0.789). After that, a single-sample gene set enrichment (ssGSEA) analysis was performed to discover immune cell infiltration in OA. Finally, human primary synoviocytes and immunohistochemistry study of synovial tissues confirmed that those candidate genes were significantly upregulated in the OA groups compared with normal groups. We successfully constructed a co-expression network based on WGCNA and found out that OA-associated susceptibility modules and hub genes, which may provide further insight into the development of pre-symptomatic diagnosis, may contribute to understanding the molecular mechanism study of OA risk genes.