To develop accurate prognostic models is one of the biggest challenges in "omics"-based cancer research. Here, we propose a novel computational method for identifying dysregulated gene subnetworks as biomarkers to predict cancer recurrence. Applying our method to the DNA methylome of endometrial cancer patients, we identified a subnetwork consisting of differentially methylated (DM) genes, and non-differentially methylated genes, termed Epigenetic Connectors (EC), that are topologically important for connecting the DM genes in a protein-protein interaction network. The ECs are statistically significantly enriched in well-known tumorgenesis and metastasis pathways, and include known epigenetic regulators. Importantly, combining the DMs and ECs as features using a novel random walk procedure, we constructed a support vector machine classifier that significantly improved the prediction accuracy of cancer recurrence and outperformed several alternative methods, demonstrating the effectiveness of our network-based approach.
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