Rapid growth of a hepatocellular carcinoma and the driving mutations revealed by cell-population genetic analysis of whole-genome data

Chung-I Wu, Tao Y, Ruan J, Yeh SH, Lu X, Wang Y, Zhai W, Cai J, Ling S, Gong Q, Chong Z, Qu Z, Li Q, Liu J, Yang J, Zheng C, Zeng C, Wang HY, Zhang J, Wang SH, Hao L, Dong L, Li W, Sun M, Zou W, Yu C, Li C, Liu G, Jiang L, Xu J, Huang H, Li C, Mi S, Zhang B, Chen B, Zhao W, Hu S, Zhuang SM, Shen Y, Shi S, Brown C, White KP, Chen DS, Chen PJ, Wu CI.

We present the analysis of the evolution of tumors in a case of hepatocellular carcinoma. This case is particularly informative about cancer growth dynamics and the underlying driving mutations. We sampled nine different sections from three tumors and seven more sections from the adjacent nontumor tissues. Selected sections were subjected to exon as well as whole-genome sequencing. Putative somatic mutations were then individually validated across all 9 tumor and 7 nontumor sections. Among the mutations validated, 24 were amino acid changes; in addition, 22 large indels/copy number variants (>1 Mb) were detected. These somatic mutations define four evolutionary lineages among tumor cells. Separate evolution and expansion of these lineages were recent and rapid, each apparently having only one lineage-specific protein-coding mutation. Hence, by using a cell-population genetic definition, this approach identified three coding changes (CCNG1, P62, and an indel/fusion gene) as tumor driver mutations. These three mutations, affecting cell cycle control and apoptosis, are functionally distinct from mutations that accumulated earlier, many of which are involved in inflammation/immunity or cell anchoring. These distinct functions of mutations at different stages may reflect the genetic interactions underlying tumor growth.

Source: Laboratory of Disease Genomics and Individualized Medicine, and China Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Genome Sciences and Information, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, People’s Republic of China. (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 5.)