The chromatin accessibility landscape of primary human cancers


The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) provides a high-quality resource of molecular data on a large variety of human cancers. Corces et al. used a recently modified assay to profile chromatin accessibility to determine the accessible chromatin landscape in 410 TCGA samples from 23 cancer types (see the Perspective by Taipale). When the data were integrated with other omics data available for the same tumor samples, inherited risk loci for cancer predisposition were revealed, transcription factors and enhancers driving molecular subtypes of cancer with patient survival differences were identified, and noncoding mutations associated with clinical prognosis were discovered. Science, this issue p. eaav1898; see also p. 401 Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Although the 2% of the human genome that encodes proteins has been extensively studied, much remains to be learned about the noncoding genome and gene regulation in cancer. Genes are turned on and off in the proper cell types and cell states by transcription factor (TF) proteins acting on DNA regulatory elements that are scattered over the vast noncoding genome and exert long-range influences. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) is a global consortium that aims to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer. TCGA has systematically collected DNA mutation, methylation, RNA expression, and other comprehensive datasets from primary human cancer tissue. TCGA has served as an invaluable resource for the identification of genomic aberrations, altered transcriptional networks, and cancer subtypes. Nonetheless, the gene regulatory landscapes of these tumors have largely been inferred through indirect means. A hallmark of active DNA regulatory elements is chromatin accessibility. Eukaryotic genomes are compacted in chromatin, a complex of DNA and proteins, and only the active regulatory elements are accessible by the cell's machinery such as TFs. ATAC-seq enables the genome-wide profiling of TF binding events that orchestrate gene expression programs and give a cell its identity. We generated high-quality ATAC-seq data in 410 tumor samples from TCGA, identifying diverse regulatory landscapes across 23 cancer types. These chromatin accessibility profiles identify cancer- and tissue-specific DNA regulatory elements that enable classification of tumor subtypes with newly recognized prognostic importance. We identify distinct TF activities in cancer based on differences in the inferred patterns of TF-DNA interaction and gene expression. Genome-wide correlation of gene expression and chromatin accessibility predicts tens of thousands of putative interactions between distal regulatory elements and gene promoters, including key oncogenes and targets in cancer immunotherapy, such as MYC, SRC, BCL2, and PDL1.

The TCGA Meta-Dataset Clinical Benchmark Machine Learning

Machine learning is bringing a paradigm shift to healthcare by changing the process of disease diagnosis and prognosis in clinics and hospitals. This development equips doctors and medical staff with tools to evaluate their hypotheses and hence make more precise decisions. Although most current research in the literature seeks to develop techniques and methods for predicting one particular clinical outcome, this approach is far from the reality of clinical decision making in which you have to consider several factors simultaneously. In addition, it is difficult to follow the recent progress concretely as there is a lack of consistency in benchmark datasets and task definitions in the field of Genomics. To address the aforementioned issues, we provide a clinical Meta-Dataset derived from the publicly available data hub called The Cancer Genome Atlas Program (TCGA) that contains 174 tasks. We believe those tasks could be good proxy tasks to develop methods which can work on a few samples of gene expression data. Also, learning to predict multiple clinical variables using gene-expression data is an important task due to the variety of phenotypes in clinical problems and lack of samples for some of the rare variables. The defined tasks cover a wide range of clinical problems including predicting tumor tissue site, white cell count, histological type, family history of cancer, gender, and many others which we explain later in the paper. Each task represents an independent dataset. We use regression and neural network baselines for all the tasks using only 150 samples and compare their performance.

Scaling tree-based automated machine learning to biomedical big data with a feature set selector


Automated machine learning (AutoML) systems are helpful data science assistants designed to scan data for novel features, select appropriate supervised learning models and optimize their parameters. For this purpose, Tree-based Pipeline Optimization Tool (TPOT) was developed using strongly typed genetic programing (GP) to recommend an optimized analysis pipeline for the data scientist's prediction problem. However, like other AutoML systems, TPOT may reach computational resource limits when working on big data such as whole-genome expression data. We introduce two new features implemented in TPOT that helps increase the system's scalability: Feature Set Selector (FSS) and Template. FSS provides the option to specify subsets of the features as separate datasets, assuming the signals come from one or more of these specific data subsets. FSS increases TPOT's efficiency in application on big data by slicing the entire dataset into smaller sets of features and allowing GP to select the best subset in the final pipeline. Template enforces type constraints with strongly typed GP and enables the incorporation of FSS at the beginning of each pipeline. Consequently, FSS and Template help reduce TPOT computation time and may provide more interpretable results.

The genomic landscape of pediatric cancers: Implications for diagnosis and treatment


The past decade has witnessed a major increase in our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of childhood cancer. Genomic sequencing studies have highlighted key differences between pediatric and adult cancers. Whereas many adult cancers are characterized by a high number of somatic mutations, pediatric cancers typically have few somatic mutations but a higher prevalence of germline alterations in cancer predisposition genes. Also noteworthy is the remarkable heterogeneity in the types of genetic alterations that likely drive the growth of pediatric cancers, including copy number alterations, gene fusions, enhancer hijacking events, and chromoplexy. Because most studies have genetically profiled pediatric cancers only at diagnosis, the mechanisms underlying tumor progression, therapy resistance, and metastasis remain poorly understood. We discuss evidence that points to a need for more integrative approaches aimed at identifying driver events in pediatric cancers at both diagnosis and relapse. We also provide an overview of key aspects of germline predisposition for cancer in this age group. Approximately 300,000 children from infancy to age 14 are diagnosed with cancer worldwide every year (1). Some of the cancer types affecting the pediatric population are also seen in adolescents and young adults (AYA), but it has become increasingly clear that cancers in the latter age group have unique biological characteristics that can affect prognosis and therapy (2).