Identification of outcome-related driver mutations in cancer using conditional co-occurrence distributions
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© The Author(s) 2017. Previous methods proposed for the detection of cancer driver mutations have been based on the estimation of background mutation rate, impact on protein function, or network influence. In this paper, we instead focus on those factors influencing patient survival. To this end, an approximation of the log-rank test has been systematically applied, even though it assumes a large and similar number of patients in both risk groups, which is violated in cancer genomics. Here, we propose VALORATE, a novel algorithm for the estimation of the null distribution for the log-rank, independent of the number of mutations. VALORATE is based on conditional distributions of the co-occurrences between events and mutations. The results, achieved through simulations, comparisons with other methods, analyses of TCGA and ICGC cancer datasets, and validations, suggest that VALORATE is accurate, fast, and can identify both known and novel gene mutations. Our proposal and results may have important implications in cancer biology, bioinformatics analyses, and ultimately precision medicine.