Pathway and network approaches are valuable tools in analysis and interpretation of large complex omics data. Even in the field of rare diseases, like Rett syndrome, omics data are available, and the maximum use of such data requires sophisticated tools for comprehensive analysis and visualization of the results. Pathway analysis with differential gene expression data has proven to be extremely successful in identifying affected processes in disease conditions. In this type of analysis, pathways from different databases like WikiPathways and Reactome are used as separate, independent entities. Here, we show for the first time how these pathway models can be used and integrated into one large network using the WikiPathways RDF containing all human WikiPathways and Reactome pathways, to perform network analysis on transcriptomics data. This network was imported into the network analysis tool Cytoscape to perform active submodule analysis. Using a publicly available Rett syndrome gene expression dataset from frontal and temporal cortex, classical enrichment analysis, including pathway and Gene Ontology analysis, revealed mainly immune response, neuron specific and extracellular matrix processes. Our active module analysis provided a valuable extension of the analysis prominently showing the regulatory mechanism of MECP2, especially on DNA maintenance, cell cycle, transcription, and translation. In conclusion, using pathway models for classical enrichment and more advanced network analysis enables a more comprehensive analysis of gene expression data and provides novel results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2019


  • pathway analysis
  • WikiPathways
  • Reactome
  • Rett syndrome
  • network analysis
  • RDF
  • topology
  • active subnetworks
  • MECP2

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