Subnetwork representation learning for discovering network biomarkers in predicting lymph node metastasis in early oral cancer
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 11:23992, 2021
Cervical lymph node metastasis is the leading cause of poor prognosis in oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma and also occurs in the early stages. The current clinical diagnosis depends on a physical examination that is not enough to determine whether micrometastasis remains. The transcriptome profiling technique has shown great potential for predicting micrometastasis by capturing the dynamic activation state of genes. However, there are several technical challenges in using transcriptome data to model patient conditions: (1) An Insufficient number of samples compared to the number of genes, (2) Complex dependence between genes that govern the cancer phenotype, and (3) Heterogeneity between patients between cohorts that differ geographically and racially. We developed a computational framework to learn the subnetwork representation of the transcriptome to discover network biomarkers and determine the potential of metastasis in early oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma. Our method achieved high accuracy in predicting the potential of metastasis in two geographically and racially different groups of patients. The robustness of the model and the reproducibility of the discovered network biomarkers show great potential as a tool to diagnose lymph node metastasis in early oral cancer.