Gene set analysis of purine and pyrimidine antimetabolites cancer therapies

Brooke L. Fridley, Anthony Batzler, Liang Li, Fang Li, Alice Matimba, Gregory D. Jenkins, Yuan Ji, Liewei Wang, Richard M. Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Responses to therapies, either with regard to toxicities or efficacy, are expected to involve complex relationships of gene products within the same molecular pathway or functional gene set. Therefore, pathways or gene sets, as opposed to single genes, may better reflect the true underlying biology and may be more appropriate units for analysis of pharmacogenomic studies. Application of such methods to pharmacogenomic studies may enable the detection of more subtle effects of multiple genes in the same pathway that may be missed by assessing each gene individually. METHODS: A gene set analysis of 3821 gene sets is presented assessing the association between basal messenger RNA expression and drug cytotoxicity using ethnically defined human lymphoblastoid cell lines for two classes of drugs: pyrimidines [gemcitabine (dFdC) and arabinoside] and purines [6-thioguanine and 6-mercaptopurine]. Results: The gene set nucleoside-diphosphatase activity was found to be significantly associated with both dFdC and arabinoside, whereas gene set γ-aminobutyric acid catabolic process was associated with dFdC and 6-thioguanine. These gene sets were significantly associated with the phenotype even after adjusting for multiple testing. In addition, five associated gene sets were found in common between the pyrimidines and two gene sets for the purines (3′,5′- cyclic-AMP phosphodiesterase activity and γ-aminobutyric acid catabolic process) with a P value of less than 0.0001. Functional validation was attempted with four genes each in gene sets for thiopurine and pyrimidine antimetabolites. All four genes selected from the pyrimidine gene sets (PSME3, CANT1, ENTPD6, ADRM1) were validated, but only one (PDE4D) was validated for the thiopurine gene sets. Conclusion: In summary, results from the gene set analysis of pyrimidine and purine therapies, used often in the treatment of various cancers, provide novel insight into the relationship between genomic variation and drug response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-712
Number of pages12
JournalPharmacogenetics and genomics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • bioinformatics
  • cytotoxicity
  • gene set enrichment analysis
  • mRNA expression
  • pharmacogenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Genetics(clinical)


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