Scientific Reports

Network-based Biased Tree Ensembles (NetBiTE) for Drug Sensitivity Prediction and Drug Sensitivity Biomarker Identification in Cancer

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We present the Network-based Biased Tree Ensembles (NetBiTE) method for drug sensitivity prediction and drug sensitivity biomarker identification in cancer using a combination of prior knowledge and gene expression data. Our devised method consists of a biased tree ensemble that is built according to a probabilistic bias weight distribution. The bias weight distribution is obtained from the assignment of high weights to the drug targets and propagating the assigned weights over a protein-protein interaction network such as STRING. The propagation of weights, defines neighborhoods of influence around the drug targets and as such simulates the spread of perturbations within the cell, following drug administration. Using a synthetic dataset, we showcase how application of biased tree ensembles (BiTE) results in significant accuracy gains at a much lower computational cost compared to the unbiased random forests (RF) algorithm. We then apply NetBiTE to the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer (GDSC) dataset and demonstrate that NetBiTE outperforms RF in predicting IC50 drug sensitivity, only for drugs that target membrane receptor pathways (MRPs): RTK, EGFR and IGFR signaling pathways. We propose based on the NetBiTE results, that for drugs that inhibit MRPs, the expression of target genes prior to drug administration is a biomarker for IC50 drug sensitivity following drug administration. We further verify and reinforce this proposition through control studies on, PI3K/MTOR signaling pathway inhibitors, a drug category that does not target MRPs, and through assignment of dummy targets to MRP inhibiting drugs and investigating the variation in NetBiTE accuracy.


04 Nov 2019


Scientific Reports