Research Article

Genes associated with disc degeneration identified using microarray gene expression profiling and bioinformatics analysis

Published: April 26, 2013
Genet. Mol. Res. 12 (2) : 1431-1439 DOI: 10.4238/2013.April.26.5

Abstract

Disc degeneration is strongly associated with back or neck pain, sciatica, and disc herniation or prolapse. It places an enormous economic burden on society and can greatly affect quality of life. Alternative treatment approaches, such as genetic therapies, are urgently needed to slow or reverse the disc degeneration process. We downloaded gene expression data from Gene Expression Omnibus during various stages of disc degeneration and identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) as well as dysfunctional pathways through comparisons with controls. We identified 2 significant DEGs between grade II and III discs and 8 significant DEGs between grade II and IV discs. By constructing an interactive network of the DEGs, we found that mitogen-activated protein family genes and Ras homologous (Rho) family genes - in particular, MAP2K6 and RHOBTB2 - may play important roles in the progression of degeneration of grade III and IV discs, respectively. MAP2K6 and RHOBTB2 may be specific therapeutic molecular targets in the treatment of disc degeneration. However, further experiments are needed to confirm this result.

Disc degeneration is strongly associated with back or neck pain, sciatica, and disc herniation or prolapse. It places an enormous economic burden on society and can greatly affect quality of life. Alternative treatment approaches, such as genetic therapies, are urgently needed to slow or reverse the disc degeneration process. We downloaded gene expression data from Gene Expression Omnibus during various stages of disc degeneration and identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) as well as dysfunctional pathways through comparisons with controls. We identified 2 significant DEGs between grade II and III discs and 8 significant DEGs between grade II and IV discs. By constructing an interactive network of the DEGs, we found that mitogen-activated protein family genes and Ras homologous (Rho) family genes - in particular, MAP2K6 and RHOBTB2 - may play important roles in the progression of degeneration of grade III and IV discs, respectively. MAP2K6 and RHOBTB2 may be specific therapeutic molecular targets in the treatment of disc degeneration. However, further experiments are needed to confirm this result.