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Open AccessArticle

A Pathway-Based Genomic Approach to Identify Medications: Application to Alcohol Use Disorder

1
Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
2
Department of Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
3
Department of Neurology, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
4
Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(12), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9120381
Received: 4 November 2019 / Revised: 12 December 2019 / Accepted: 13 December 2019 / Published: 16 December 2019
Chronic, excessive alcohol use alters brain gene expression patterns, which could be important for initiating, maintaining, or progressing the addicted state. It has been proposed that pharmaceuticals with opposing effects on gene expression could treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). Computational strategies comparing gene expression signatures of disease to those of pharmaceuticals show promise for nominating novel treatments. We reasoned that it may be sufficient for a treatment to target the biological pathway rather than lists of individual genes perturbed by AUD. We analyzed published and unpublished transcriptomic data using gene set enrichment of Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways to identify biological pathways disrupted in AUD brain and by compounds in the Library of Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS L1000) and Connectivity Map (CMap) databases. Several pathways were consistently disrupted in AUD brain, including an up-regulation of genes within the Complement and Coagulation Cascade, Focal Adhesion, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and MAPK signaling, and a down-regulation of genes within the Oxidative Phosphorylation pathway, strengthening evidence for their importance in AUD. Over 200 compounds targeted genes within those pathways in an opposing manner, more than twenty of which have already been shown to affect alcohol consumption, providing confidence in our approach. We created a user-friendly web-interface that researchers can use to identify drugs that target pathways of interest or nominate mechanism of action for drugs. This study demonstrates a unique systems pharmacology approach that can nominate pharmaceuticals that target pathways disrupted in disease states such as AUD and identify compounds that could be repurposed for AUD if sufficient evidence is attained in preclinical studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: systems pharmacology; alcohol dependence; alcohol use disorder; gene expression systems pharmacology; alcohol dependence; alcohol use disorder; gene expression
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ferguson, L.B.; Patil, S.; Moskowitz, B.A.; Ponomarev, I.; Harris, R.A.; Mayfield, R.D.; Messing, R.O. A Pathway-Based Genomic Approach to Identify Medications: Application to Alcohol Use Disorder. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 381.

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