Tumor evolution: Linear, branching, neutral or punctuated?
ABSTRACT: Intratumor heterogeneity has been widely reported in human cancers, but our knowledge of how this genetic diversity emerges over time remains limited. A central challenge in studying tumor evolution is the difficulty in collecting longitudinal samples from cancer patients. Consequently, most studies have inferred tumor evolution from single time-point samples, providing very indirect information. These data have led to several competing models of tumor evolution: linear, branching, neutral and punctuated. Each model makes different assumptions regarding the timing of mutations and selection of clones, and therefore has different implications for the diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of cancer patients. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that models may change during tumor progression or operate concurrently for different classes of mutations. Finally, we discuss data that supports the theory that most human tumors evolve from a single cell in the normal tissue. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Evolutionary principles - heterogeneity in cancer?, edited by Dr. Robert A. Gatenby.
Project description:Cancer is thought to arise through the accumulation of genomic aberrations evolving under Darwinian selection. However, it remains unclear when the aberrations associated with metastasis emerge during tumor evolution. Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common primary eye cancer and frequently leads to metastatic death, which is strongly linked to BAP1 mutations. Accordingly, UM is ideally suited for studying the clonal evolution of metastatic competence. Here we analyze sequencing data from 151 primary UM samples using a customized bioinformatic pipeline, to improve detection of BAP1 mutations and infer the clonal relationships among genomic aberrations. Strikingly, we find BAP1 mutations and other canonical genomic aberrations usually arise in an early punctuated burst, followed by neutral evolution extending to the time of clinical detection. This implies that the metastatic proclivity of UM is "set in stone" early in tumor evolution and may explain why advances in primary treatment have not improved survival.
Project description:Aneuploidy is a hallmark of breast cancer; however, knowledge of how these complex genomic rearrangements evolve during tumorigenesis is limited. In this study, we developed a highly multiplexed single-nucleus sequencing method to investigate copy number evolution in patients with triple-negative breast cancer. We sequenced 1,000 single cells from tumors in 12 patients and identified 1-3 major clonal subpopulations in each tumor that shared a common evolutionary lineage. For each tumor, we also identified a minor subpopulation of non-clonal cells that were classified as metastable, pseudodiploid or chromazemic. Phylogenetic analysis and mathematical modeling suggest that these data are unlikely to be explained by the gradual accumulation of copy number events over time. In contrast, our data challenge the paradigm of gradual evolution, showing that the majority of copy number aberrations are acquired at the earliest stages of tumor evolution, in short punctuated bursts, followed by stable clonal expansions that form the tumor mass.
Project description:Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and aggressive primary brain malignancy, with poor prognosis and a lack of effective therapeutic options. Accumulating evidence suggests that intratumor heterogeneity likely is the key to understanding treatment failure. However, the extent of intratumor heterogeneity as a result of tumor evolution is still poorly understood. To address this, we developed a unique surgical multisampling scheme to collect spatially distinct tumor fragments from 11 GB patients. We present an integrated genomic analysis that uncovers extensive intratumor heterogeneity, with most patients displaying different GB subtypes within the same tumor. Moreover, we reconstructed the phylogeny of the fragments for each patient, identifying copy number alterations in EGFR and CDKN2A/B/p14ARF as early events, and aberrations in PDGFRA and PTEN as later events during cancer progression. We also characterized the clonal organization of each tumor fragment at the single-molecule level, detecting multiple coexisting cell lineages. Our results reveal the genome-wide architecture of intratumor variability in GB across multiple spatial scales and patient-specific patterns of cancer evolution, with consequences for treatment design.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Deep sequencing technologies are revealing the complexities of cancer evolution, casting light on mutational processes fueling tumor adaptation, immune escape, and treatment resistance. Understanding mechanisms driving cancer diversity is a critical step toward developing strategies to attenuate tumor evolution and adaptation. One emerging mechanism fueling tumor diversity and subclonal evolution is genomic DNA cytosine deamination catalyzed by APOBEC3B and at least one other APOBEC family member. Deregulation of APOBEC3 enzymes causes a general mutator phenotype that manifests as diverse and heterogeneous tumor subclones. Here, we summarize knowledge of the APOBEC DNA deaminase family in cancer, and their role as driving forces for intratumor heterogeneity and a therapeutic target to limit tumor adaptation. SIGNIFICANCE:APOBEC mutational signatures may be enriched in tumor subclones, suggesting APOBEC cytosine deaminases fuel subclonal expansions and intratumor heterogeneity. APOBEC family members might represent a new class of drug target aimed at limiting tumor evolution, adaptation, and drug resistance.
Project description:Advanced colorectal cancer harbors extensive intratumor heterogeneity shaped by neutral evolution; however, intratumor heterogeneity in colorectal precancerous lesions has been poorly studied. We perform multiregion whole-exome sequencing on ten early colorectal tumors, which contained adenoma and carcinoma in situ. By comparing with sequencing data from advanced colorectal tumors, we show that the early tumors accumulate a higher proportion of subclonal driver mutations than the advanced tumors, which is highlighted by subclonal mutations in KRAS and APC. We also demonstrate that variant allele frequencies of subclonal mutations tend to be higher in early tumors, suggesting that the subclonal mutations are subject to selective sweep in early tumorigenesis while neutral evolution is dominant in advanced ones. This study establishes that the evolutionary principle underlying intratumor heterogeneity shifts from Darwinian to neutral evolution during colorectal tumor progression.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Intratumor heterogeneity may foster tumor evolution and adaptation and hinder personalized-medicine strategies that depend on results from single tumor-biopsy samples. METHODS:To examine intratumor heterogeneity, we performed exome sequencing, chromosome aberration analysis, and ploidy profiling on multiple spatially separated samples obtained from primary renal carcinomas and associated metastatic sites. We characterized the consequences of intratumor heterogeneity using immunohistochemical analysis, mutation functional analysis, and profiling of messenger RNA expression. RESULTS:Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed branched evolutionary tumor growth, with 63 to 69% of all somatic mutations not detectable across every tumor region. Intratumor heterogeneity was observed for a mutation within an autoinhibitory domain of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, correlating with S6 and 4EBP phosphorylation in vivo and constitutive activation of mTOR kinase activity in vitro. Mutational intratumor heterogeneity was seen for multiple tumor-suppressor genes converging on loss of function; SETD2, PTEN, and KDM5C underwent multiple distinct and spatially separated inactivating mutations within a single tumor, suggesting convergent phenotypic evolution. Gene-expression signatures of good and poor prognosis were detected in different regions of the same tumor. Allelic composition and ploidy profiling analysis revealed extensive intratumor heterogeneity, with 26 of 30 tumor samples from four tumors harboring divergent allelic-imbalance profiles and with ploidy heterogeneity in two of four tumors. CONCLUSIONS:Intratumor heterogeneity can lead to underestimation of the tumor genomics landscape portrayed from single tumor-biopsy samples and may present major challenges to personalized-medicine and biomarker development. Intratumor heterogeneity, associated with heterogeneous protein function, may foster tumor adaptation and therapeutic failure through Darwinian selection. (Funded by the Medical Research Council and others.).
Project description:The analysis of exonic DNA from prostate cancers has identified recurrently mutated genes, but the spectrum of genome-wide alterations has not been profiled extensively in this disease. We sequenced the genomes of 57 prostate tumors and matched normal tissues to characterize somatic alterations and to study how they accumulate during oncogenesis and progression. By modeling the genesis of genomic rearrangements, we identified abundant DNA translocations and deletions that arise in a highly interdependent manner. This phenomenon, which we term "chromoplexy," frequently accounts for the dysregulation of prostate cancer genes and appears to disrupt multiple cancer genes coordinately. Our modeling suggests that chromoplexy may induce considerable genomic derangement over relatively few events in prostate cancer and other neoplasms, supporting a model of punctuated cancer evolution. By characterizing the clonal hierarchy of genomic lesions in prostate tumors, we charted a path of oncogenic events along which chromoplexy may drive prostate carcinogenesis.
Project description:Archaeological accounts of cultural change reveal a fundamental conflict: Some suggest that change is gradual, accelerating over time, whereas others indicate that it is punctuated, with long periods of stasis interspersed by sudden gains or losses of multiple traits. Existing models of cultural evolution, inspired by models of genetic evolution, lend support to the former and do not generate trajectories that include large-scale punctuated change. We propose a simple model that can give rise to both exponential and punctuated patterns of gain and loss of cultural traits. In it, cultural innovation comprises several realistic interdependent processes that occur at different rates. The model also takes into account two properties intrinsic to cultural evolution: the differential distribution of traits among social groups and the impact of environmental change. In our model, a population may be subdivided into groups with different cultural repertoires leading to increased susceptibility to cultural loss, whereas environmental change may lead to rapid loss of traits that are not useful in a new environment. Taken together, our results suggest the usefulness of a concept of an effective cultural population size.
Project description:Although clonal selection by genetic driver aberrations in cancer is well documented, the ability of epigenetic alterations to promote tumor evolution is undefined. We used 450k arrays and next-generation sequencing to evaluate intratumor heterogeneity and evolution of DNA methylation and genetic aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CLL cases exhibit vast interpatient differences in intratumor methylation heterogeneity, with genetically clonal cases maintaining low methylation heterogeneity and up to 10% of total CpGs in a monoallelically methylated state. Increasing methylation heterogeneity correlates with advanced genetic subclonal complexity. Selection of novel DNA methylation patterns is observed only in cases that undergo genetic evolution, and independent genetic evolution is uncommon and is restricted to low-risk alterations. These results reveal that although evolution of DNA methylation occurs in high-risk, clinically progressive cases, positive selection of novel methylation patterns entails coevolution of genetic alteration(s) in CLL.
Project description:Intratumor genetic heterogeneity is a key mechanism underlying tumor progression and therapeutic resistance. The prevailing model for explaining intratumor diversity, the clonal evolution model, has recently been challenged by proponents of the cancer stem cell hypothesis. To investigate this issue, we performed combined analyses of markers associated with cellular differentiation states and genotypic alterations in human breast carcinomas and evaluated diversity with ecological and evolutionary methods. Our analyses showed a high degree of genetic heterogeneity both within and between distinct tumor cell populations that were defined based on markers of cellular phenotypes including stem cell-like characteristics. In several tumors, stem cell-like and more-differentiated cancer cell populations were genetically distinct, leading us to question the validity of a simple differentiation hierarchy-based cancer stem cell model. The degree of diversity correlated with clinically relevant breast tumor subtypes and in some tumors was markedly different between the in situ and invasive cell populations. We also found that diversity measures were associated with clinical variables. Our findings highlight the importance of genetic diversity in intratumor heterogeneity and the value of analyzing tumors as distinct populations of cancer cells to more effectively plan treatments.