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Inferring clonal composition from multiple tumor biopsies


Abstract

Knowledge about the clonal evolution of a tumor can help to interpret the function of its genetic alterations by identifying initiating events and events that contribute to the selective advantage of proliferative, metastatic, and drug-resistant subclones. Clonal evolution can be reconstructed from estimates of the relative abundance (frequency) of subclone-specific alterations in tumor biopsies, which, in turn, inform on its composition. However, estimating these frequencies is complicated by the high genetic instability that characterizes many cancers. Models for genetic instability suggest that copy number alterations (CNAs) can influence mutation-frequency estimates and thus impede efforts to reconstruct tumor phylogenies. Our analysis suggested that accurate mutation frequency estimates require accounting for CNAs-a challenging endeavour using the genetic profile of a single tumor biopsy. Instead, we propose an optimization algorithm, Chimæra, to account for the effects of CNAs using profiles of multiple biopsies per tumor. Analyses of simulated data and tumor profiles suggested that Chimæra estimates are consistently more accurate than those of previously proposed methods and resulted in improved phylogeny reconstructions and subclone characterizations. Our analyses inferred recurrent initiating mutations in hepatocellular carcinomas, resolved the clonal composition of Wilms' tumors, and characterized the acquisition of mutations in drug-resistant prostate cancers.

Abstract

Knowledge about the clonal evolution of a tumor can help to interpret the function of its genetic alterations by identifying initiating events and events that contribute to the selective advantage of proliferative, metastatic, and drug-resistant subclones. Clonal evolution can be reconstructed from estimates of the relative abundance (frequency) of subclone-specific alterations in tumor biopsies, which, in turn, inform on its composition. However, estimating these frequencies is complicated by the high genetic instability that characterizes many cancers. Models for genetic instability suggest that copy number alterations (CNAs) can influence mutation-frequency estimates and thus impede efforts to reconstruct tumor phylogenies. Our analysis suggested that accurate mutation frequency estimates require accounting for CNAs-a challenging endeavour using the genetic profile of a single tumor biopsy. Instead, we propose an optimization algorithm, Chimæra, to account for the effects of CNAs using profiles of multiple biopsies per tumor. Analyses of simulated data and tumor profiles suggested that Chimæra estimates are consistently more accurate than those of previously proposed methods and resulted in improved phylogeny reconstructions and subclone characterizations. Our analyses inferred recurrent initiating mutations in hepatocellular carcinomas, resolved the clonal composition of Wilms' tumors, and characterized the acquisition of mutations in drug-resistant prostate cancers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Pathology and Molecular Pathology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Modeling and Simulation
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > Drug Discovery
Physical Sciences > Computer Science Applications
Physical Sciences > Applied Mathematics
Language:English
Date:25 August 2020
Deposited On:02 Dec 2020 10:22
Last Modified:01 Jan 2021 21:02
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2056-7189
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41540-020-00147-5
Related URLs:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32843649/
PubMed ID:32843649

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