Network-Based Association of Hypoxia-Responsive Genes with Cardiovascular Diseases


Molecular oxygen is indispensable for cellular viability and function. Hypoxia is a stress condition in which oxygen demand exceeds supply. Low cellular oxygen content induces a number of molecular changes to activate regulatory pathways responsible for increasing the oxygen supply and optimizing cellular metabolism under limited oxygen conditions. Hypoxia plays critical roles in the pathobiology of many diseases, such as cancer, heart failure, myocardial ischemia, stroke, and chronic lung diseases. Although the complicated associations between hypoxia and cardiovascular (and cerebrovascular) diseases (CVD) have been recognized for some time, there are few studies that investigate their biological link from a systems biology perspective. In this study, we integrate hypoxia genes, CVD genes, and the human protein interactome in order to explore the relationship between hypoxia and cardiovascular diseases at a systems level. We show that hypoxia genes are much closer to CVD genes in the human protein interactome than that expected by chance. We also find that hypoxia genes play significant bridging roles in connecting different cardiovascular diseases. We construct an hypoxia-CVD bipartite network and find several interesting hypoxia-CVD modules with significant Gene Ontology (GO) similarity. Finally, we show that hypoxia genes tend to have more CVD interactors in the human interactome than in random networks of matching topology. Based on these observations, we can predict novel genes that may be associated with CVD. This network-based association study gives us a broad view of the relationships between hypoxia and cardiovascular diseases and provides new insights into the role of hypoxia in cardiovascular biology.

New Journal of Physics