Chromothripsis is a mutational phenomenon characterized by massive, clustered genomic rearrangements that occurs in cancer and other diseases. Recent studies in selected cancer types have suggested that chromothripsis may be more common than initially inferred from low-resolution copy-number data. Here, as part of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we analyze patterns of chromothripsis across 2,658 tumors from 38 cancer types using whole-genome sequencing data. We find that chromothripsis events are pervasive across cancers, with a frequency of more than 50% in several cancer types. Whereas canonical chromothripsis profiles display oscillations between two copy-number states, a considerable fraction of events involve multiple chromosomes and additional structural alterations. In addition to non-homologous end joining, we detect signatures of replication-associated processes and templated insertions. Chromothripsis contributes to oncogene amplification and to inactivation of genes such as mismatch-repair-related genes. These findings show that chromothripsis is a major process that drives genome evolution in human cancer.
BACKGROUND: Gene fusions have been studied extensively, as frequent drivers of tumorigenesis as well as potential therapeutic targets. In many well-known cases, breakpoints occur at two intragenic positions, leading to in-frame gene-gene fusions that generate chimeric mRNAs. However, fusions often occur with intergenic breakpoints, and the role of such fusions has not been carefully examined. RESULTS: We analyze whole-genome sequencing data from 268 patients to catalog gene-intergenic and intergenic-intergenic fusions and characterize their impact. First, we discover that, in contrast to the common assumption, chimeric oncogenic transcripts-such as those involving ETV4, ERG, RSPO3, and PIK3CA-can be generated by gene-intergenic fusions through splicing of the intervening region. Second, we find that over-expression of an upstream or downstream gene by a fusion-mediated repositioning of a regulatory sequence is much more common than previously suspected, with enhancers sometimes located megabases away. We detect a number of recurrent fusions, such as those involving ANO3, RGS9, FUT5, CHI3L1, OR1D4, and LIPG in breast; IGF2 in colon; ETV1 in prostate; and IGF2BP3 and SIX2 in thyroid cancers. CONCLUSION: Our findings elucidate the potential oncogenic function of intergenic fusions and highlight the wide-ranging consequences of structural rearrangements in cancer genomes.
The three-dimensional conformation of a genome can be profiled using Hi-C, a technique that combines chromatin conformation capture with high-throughput sequencing. However, structural variations often yield features that can be mistaken for chromosomal interactions. Here, we describe a computational method HiNT (Hi-C for copy Number variation and Translocation detection), which detects copy number variations and interchromosomal translocations within Hi-C data with breakpoints at single base-pair resolution. We demonstrate that HiNT outperforms existing methods on both simulated and real data. We also show that Hi-C can supplement whole-genome sequencing in structure variant detection by locating breakpoints in repetitive regions.
A key mutational process in cancer is structural variation, in which rearrangements delete, amplify or reorder genomic segments that range in size from kilobases to whole chromosomes1-7. Here we develop methods to group, classify and describe somatic structural variants, using data from the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which aggregated whole-genome sequencing data from 2,658 cancers across 38 tumour types8. Sixteen signatures of structural variation emerged. Deletions have a multimodal size distribution, assort unevenly across tumour types and patients, are enriched in late-replicating regions and correlate with inversions. Tandem duplications also have a multimodal size distribution, but are enriched in early-replicating regions-as are unbalanced translocations. Replication-based mechanisms of rearrangement generate varied chromosomal structures with low-level copy-number gains and frequent inverted rearrangements. One prominent structure consists of 2-7 templates copied from distinct regions of the genome strung together within one locus. Such cycles of templated insertions correlate with tandem duplications, and-in liver cancer-frequently activate the telomerase gene TERT. A wide variety of rearrangement processes are active in cancer, which generate complex configurations of the genome upon which selection can act.
Rodriguez-Martin B, Alvarez EG, Baez-Ortega A, Zamora J, Supek F, Demeulemeester J, Santamarina M, Ju YS, Temes J, Garcia-Souto D, Detering H, Li Y, Rodriguez-Castro J, Dueso-Barroso A, Bruzos AL, Dentro SC, Blanco MG, Contino G, Ardeljan D, Tojo M, Roberts ND, Zumalave S, Edwards PAW, Weischenfeldt J, Puiggròs M, Chong Z, Chen K, Lee EA, Wala JA, Raine K, Butler A, Waszak SM, Navarro FCP, Schumacher SE, Monlong J, Maura F, Bolli N, Bourque G, Gerstein M, Park PJ, Wedge DC, Beroukhim R, Torrents D, Korbel JO, Martincorena I, Fitzgerald RC, Van Loo P, Kazazian HH, Burns KH, Group PCAWGSVW, Campbell PJ, Tubio JMC, Consortium PCAWG. Pan-cancer analysis of whole genome identifies driver rearrangements promoted by LINE-1 retrotransposition [Internet]. Nature Genetics 2020;52(3):306-319. Publisher's VersionAbstract
About half of all cancers have somatic integrations of retrotransposons. Here, to characterize their role in oncogenesis, we analyzed the patterns and mechanisms of somatic retrotransposition in 2,954 cancer genomes from 38 histological cancer subtypes within the framework of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project. We identified 19,166 somatically acquired retrotransposition events, which affected 35% of samples and spanned a range of event types. Long interspersed nuclear element (LINE-1; L1 hereafter) insertions emerged as the first most frequent type of somatic structural variation in esophageal adenocarcinoma, and the second most frequent in head-and-neck and colorectal cancers. Aberrant L1 integrations can delete megabase-scale regions of a chromosome, which sometimes leads to the removal of tumor-suppressor genes, and can induce complex translocations and large-scale duplications. Somatic retrotranspositions can also initiate breakage-fusion-bridge cycles, leading to high-level amplification of oncogenes. These observations illuminate a relevant role of L1 retrotransposition in remodeling the cancer genome, with potential implications for the development of human tumors.
Cancers require telomere maintenance mechanisms for unlimited replicative potential. They achieve this through TERT activation or alternative telomere lengthening associated with ATRX or DAXX loss. Here, as part of the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium, we dissect whole-genome sequencing data of over 2500 matched tumor-control samples from 36 different tumor types aggregated within the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium to characterize the genomic footprints of these mechanisms. While the telomere content of tumors with ATRX or DAXX mutations (ATRX/DAXXtrunc) is increased, tumors with TERT modifications show a moderate decrease of telomere content. One quarter of all tumor samples contain somatic integrations of telomeric sequences into non-telomeric DNA. This fraction is increased to 80% prevalence in ATRX/DAXXtrunc tumors, which carry an aberrant telomere variant repeat (TVR) distribution as another genomic marker. The latter feature includes enrichment or depletion of the previously undescribed singleton TVRs TTCGGG and TTTGGG, respectively. Our systematic analysis provides new insight into the recurrent genomic alterations associated with telomere maintenance mechanisms in cancer.
Microsatellite instability (MSI) refers to the hypermutability of short repetitive sequences in the genome caused by impaired DNA mismatch repair. Although MSI has been studied for decades, large amounts of sequencing data now available allows us to examine the molecular fingerprints of MSI in greater detail. Here, we analyse ∼8,000 exomes and ∼1,000 whole genomes of cancer patients across 23 cancer types. Our analysis reveals that the frequency of MSI events is highly variable within and across tumour types. We also identify genes in DNA repair and oncogenic pathways recurrently subject to MSI and uncover non-coding loci that frequently display MSI. Finally, we propose a highly accurate exome-based predictive model for the MSI phenotype. These results advance our understanding of the genomic drivers and consequences of MSI, and our comprehensive catalogue of tumour-type-specific MSI loci will enable panel-based MSI testing to identify patients who are likely to benefit from immunotherapy.
Although exome sequencing data are generated primarily to detect single-nucleotide variants and indels, they can also be used to identify a subset of genomic rearrangements whose breakpoints are located in or near exons. Using >4,600 tumor and normal pairs across 15 cancer types, we identified over 9,000 high confidence somatic rearrangements, including a large number of gene fusions. We find that the 5' fusion partners of functional fusions are often housekeeping genes, whereas the 3' fusion partners are enriched in tyrosine kinases. We establish the oncogenic potential of ROR1-DNAJC6 and CEP85L-ROS1 fusions by showing that they can promote cell proliferation in vitro and tumor formation in vivo. Furthermore, we found that ∼4% of the samples have massively rearranged chromosomes, many of which are associated with upregulation of oncogenes such as ERBB2 and TERT. Although the sensitivity of detecting structural alterations from exomes is considerably lower than that from whole genomes, this approach will be fruitful for the multitude of exomes that have been and will be generated, both in cancer and in other diseases.
BACKGROUND: While active LINE-1 (L1) elements possess the ability to mobilize flanking sequences to different genomic loci through a process termed transduction influencing genomic content and structure, an approach for detecting polymorphic germline non-reference transductions in massively-parallel sequencing data has been lacking. RESULTS: Here we present the computational approach TIGER (Transduction Inference in GERmline genomes), enabling the discovery of non-reference L1-mediated transductions by combining L1 discovery with detection of unique insertion sequences and detailed characterization of insertion sites. We employed TIGER to characterize polymorphic transductions in fifteen genomes from non-human primate species (chimpanzee, orangutan and rhesus macaque), as well as in a human genome. We achieved high accuracy as confirmed by PCR and two single molecule DNA sequencing techniques, and uncovered differences in relative rates of transduction between primate species. CONCLUSIONS: By enabling detection of polymorphic transductions, TIGER makes this form of relevant structural variation amenable for population and personal genome analysis.
During tumor evolution, cancer cells can accumulate numerous genetic alterations, ranging from single nucleotide mutations to whole-chromosomal changes. Although a great deal of progress has been made in the past decades in characterizing genomic alterations, recent cancer genome sequencing studies have provided a wealth of information on the detailed molecular profiles of such alterations in various types of cancers. Here, we review our current understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of cancer genome instability, focusing on the findings uncovered through analysis of exome and whole-genome sequencing data. These analyses have shown that most cancers have evidence of genome instability, and the degree of instability is variable within and between cancer types. Importantly, we describe some recent evidence supporting the idea that chromosomal instability could be a major driving force in tumorigenesis and cancer evolution, actively shaping the genomes of cancer cells to maximize their survival advantage. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease Volume 11 is May 23, 2016. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Parfenov M, Pedamallu CS, Gehlenborg N, Freeman SS, Danilova L, Bristow CA, Lee S, Hadjipanayis AG, Ivanova EV, Wilkerson MD, Protopopov A, Yang L, Seth S, Song X, Tang J, Ren X, Zhang J, Pantazi A, Santoso N, Xu AW, Mahadeshwar H, Wheeler DA, Haddad RI, Jung J, Ojesina AI, Issaeva N, Yarbrough WG, Hayes ND, Grandis JR, El-Naggar AK, Meyerson M, Park PJ, Chin L, Seidman JG, Hammerman PS, Kucherlapati R, Cancer Genome Atlas Network TCGA. Characterization of HPV and host genome interactions in primary head and neck cancers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2014;111(43):15544-9.Abstract
Previous studies have established that a subset of head and neck tumors contains human papillomavirus (HPV) sequences and that HPV-driven head and neck cancers display distinct biological and clinical features. HPV is known to drive cancer by the actions of the E6 and E7 oncoproteins, but the molecular architecture of HPV infection and its interaction with the host genome in head and neck cancers have not been comprehensively described. We profiled a cohort of 279 head and neck cancers with next generation RNA and DNA sequencing and show that 35 (12.5%) tumors displayed evidence of high-risk HPV types 16, 33, or 35. Twenty-five cases had integration of the viral genome into one or more locations in the human genome with statistical enrichment for genic regions. Integrations had a marked impact on the human genome and were associated with alterations in DNA copy number, mRNA transcript abundance and splicing, and both inter- and intrachromosomal rearrangements. Many of these events involved genes with documented roles in cancer. Cancers with integrated vs. nonintegrated HPV displayed different patterns of DNA methylation and both human and viral gene expressions. Together, these data provide insight into the mechanisms by which HPV interacts with the human genome beyond expression of viral oncoproteins and suggest that specific integration events are an integral component of viral oncogenesis.
Davis CF*, Ricketts CJ*, Wang M*, Yang L*, Cherniack AD, Shen H, Buhay C, Kang H, Kim SC, Fahey CC, Hacker KE, Bhanot G, Gordenin DA, Chu A, Gunaratne PH, Biehl M, Seth S, Kaipparettu BA, Bristow CA, Donehower LA, Wallen EM, Smith AB, Tickoo SK, Tamboli P, Reuter V, Schmidt LS, Hsieh JJ, Choueiri TK, Hakimi AA, Hakimi AA, Chin L, Meyerson M, Kucherlapati R, Park W-Y, Robertson GA, Laird PW, Henske EP, Kwiatkowski DJ, Park PJ, Morgan M, Shuch B, Muzny D, Wheeler DA, Linehan MW, Gibbs RA, Rathmell KW, Creighton CJ. The somatic genomic landscape of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Cell 2014;26(3):319-30.Abstract
We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations.
Although nucleotide resolution maps of genomic structural variants (SVs) have provided insights into the origin and impact of phenotypic diversity in humans, comparable maps in nonhuman primates have thus far been lacking. Using massively parallel DNA sequencing, we constructed fine-resolution genomic structural variation maps in five chimpanzees, five orang-utans, and five rhesus macaques. The SV maps, which are comprised of thousands of deletions, duplications, and mobile element insertions, revealed a high activity of retrotransposition in macaques compared with great apes. By comparison, nonallelic homologous recombination is specifically active in the great apes, which is correlated with architectural differences between the genomes of great apes and macaque. Transcriptome analyses across nonhuman primates and humans revealed effects of species-specific whole-gene duplication on gene expression. We identified 13 gene duplications coinciding with the species-specific gain of tissue-specific gene expression in keeping with a role of gene duplication in the promotion of diversification and the acquisition of unique functions. Differences in the present day activity of SV formation mechanisms that our study revealed may contribute to ongoing diversification and adaptation of great ape and Old World monkey lineages.
Identification of somatic rearrangements in cancer genomes has accelerated through analysis of high-throughput sequencing data. However, characterization of complex structural alterations and their underlying mechanisms remains inadequate. Here, applying an algorithm to predict structural variations from short reads, we report a comprehensive catalog of somatic structural variations and the mechanisms generating them, using high-coverage whole-genome sequencing data from 140 patients across ten tumor types. We characterize the relative contributions of different types of rearrangements and their mutational mechanisms, find that ~20% of the somatic deletions are complex deletions formed by replication errors, and describe the differences between the mutational mechanisms in somatic and germline alterations. Importantly, we provide detailed reconstructions of the events responsible for loss of CDKN2A/B and gain of EGFR in glioblastoma, revealing that these alterations can result from multiple mechanisms even in a single genome and that both DNA double-strand breaks and replication errors drive somatic rearrangements.
Microsatellites-simple tandem repeats present at millions of sites in the human genome-can shorten or lengthen due to a defect in DNA mismatch repair. We present here a comprehensive genome-wide analysis of the prevalence, mutational spectrum, and functional consequences of microsatellite instability (MSI) in cancer genomes. We analyzed MSI in 277 colorectal and endometrial cancer genomes (including 57 microsatellite-unstable ones) using exome and whole-genome sequencing data. Recurrent MSI events in coding sequences showed tumor type specificity, elevated frameshift-to-inframe ratios, and lower transcript levels than wild-type alleles. Moreover, genome-wide analysis revealed differences in the distribution of MSI versus point mutations, including overrepresentation of MSI in euchromatic and intronic regions compared to heterochromatic and intergenic regions, respectively, and depletion of MSI at nucleosome-occupied sequences. Our results provide a panoramic view of MSI in cancer genomes, highlighting their tumor type specificity, impact on gene expression, and the role of chromatin organization.
Transposable elements (TEs) are abundant in the human genome, and some are capable of generating new insertions through RNA intermediates. In cancer, the disruption of cellular mechanisms that normally suppress TE activity may facilitate mutagenic retrotranspositions. We performed single-nucleotide resolution analysis of TE insertions in 43 high-coverage whole-genome sequencing data sets from five cancer types. We identified 194 high-confidence somatic TE insertions, as well as thousands of polymorphic TE insertions in matched normal genomes. Somatic insertions were present in epithelial tumors but not in blood or brain cancers. Somatic L1 insertions tend to occur in genes that are commonly mutated in cancer, disrupt the expression of the target genes, and are biased toward regions of cancer-specific DNA hypomethylation, highlighting their potential impact in tumorigenesis.
Structural variations are widespread in the human genome and can serve as genetic markers in clinical and evolutionary studies. With the advances in the next-generation sequencing technology, recent methods allow for identification of structural variations with unprecedented resolution and accuracy. They also provide opportunities to discover variants that could not be detected on conventional microarray-based platforms, such as dosage-invariant chromosomal translocations and inversions. In this review, we will describe some of the sequencing-based algorithms for detection of structural variations and discuss the key issues in future development.