Information theory to find cancer genes (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 20:25 (475 days ago) @ David Turell

Studying acute lymphatic leukemia in children's genomes by using information theory finds probable genes responsible:

"Using a widely known field of mathematics designed mainly to study how digital and other forms of information are measured, stored and shared, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have uncovered a likely key genetic culprit in the development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

"ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia, striking an estimated 3,000 children and teens each year in the United States alone.

"Specifically, the Johns Hopkins team used "information theory," applying an analysis that relies on strings of zeros and ones -- the binary system of symbols common to computer languages and codes -- to identify variables or outcomes of a particular process. In the case of human cancer biology, the scientists focused on a chemical process in cells called DNA methylation, in which certain chemical groups attach to areas of genes that guide genes' on/off switches.


"By assigning zeros and ones to pieces of genetic code that were methylated or unmethylated and using concepts of information theory and computer programs to recognize patterns of methylation, the scientists were able to find regions of the genome that were consistently methylated in patients with leukemia and those without cancer.

"They also saw genome regions in the leukemia cells that were more randomly methylated, compared with the normal genome, a signal to scientists that those spots may be specifically linked to leukemia cells compared with normal ones.

"One gene, called UHRF1, stood out among other gene regions in leukemia cells that had differences in DNA methylation compared with the normal genome."

Comment: Since life relies on the coded information in genes, using information theory makes perfect sense.

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