Differential network entropy reveals cancer system hallmarks
The cellular phenotype is described by a complex network of molecular interactions. Elucidating network properties that distinguish disease from the healthy cellular state is therefore of critical importance for gaining systems-level insights into disease mechanisms and ultimately for developing improved therapies. By integrating gene expression data with a protein interaction network we here demonstrate that cancer cells are characterised by an increase in network entropy. In addition, we formally demonstrate that gene expression differences between normal and cancer tissue are anticorrelated with local network entropy changes, thus providing a systemic link between gene expression changes at the nodes and their local correlation patterns. In particular, we find that genes which drive cell-proliferation in cancer cells and which often encode oncogenes are associated with reductions in network entropy. These findings may have potential implications for identifying novel drug targets.