A new molecular subclassification and in silico predictions for diagnosis and prognosis of papillary thyroid cancer by alternative splicing profile
Introduction: Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is the most common endocrine malignancy. However, different PTC variants reveal high heterogeneity at histological, cytological, molecular and clinicopathological levels, which complicates the precise diagnosis and management of PTC. Alternative splicing (AS) has been reported to be potential cancer biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Method: Here, we aim to find a more sophisticated molecular subclassification and characterization for PTC by integrating AS profiling. Based on six differentially expressed alternative splicing (DEAS) events, a new molecular subclassification was proposed to reclassify PTC into three new groups named as Cluster0, Cluster1 and Cluster2 respectively. Results: An in silico prediction was performed for accurate recognition of new groups with the average accuracy of 91.2%. Moreover, series of analyses were implemented to explore the differences of clinicopathology, molecular and immune characteristics across them. It suggests that there are remarkable differences among them, but Cluster2 was characterized by poor prognosis, higher immune heterogeneity and more sensitive to anti-PD1 therapy. The splicing correlation networks proved the complicated regulation relationships between AS events and splicing factors (SFs). An independent prognostic indicator for PTC overall survival (OS) was established. Finally, three compounds (orantinib, tyrphostin-AG-1295 and AG-370) were discovered to be the potential therapeutic agents. Discussion: Overall, the six DEAS events are not only potential biomarkers for precise diagnosis of PTC, but also the probable prognostic predictors. This research would be expected to highlight the effect of AS events on PTC characterization and also provide new insights into refining precise subclassification and improving medical therapy for PTC patients.