Whole-genome sequencing data allow detection of copy number variation (CNV) at high resolution. However, estimation based on read coverage along the genome suffers from bias due to GC content and other factors. Here, we develop an algorithm called BIC-seq2 that combines normalization of the data at the nucleotide level and Bayesian information criterion-based segmentation to detect both somatic and germline CNVs accurately. Analysis of simulation data showed that this method outperforms existing methods. We apply this algorithm to low coverage whole-genome sequencing data from peripheral blood of nearly a thousand patients across eleven cancer types in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to identify cancer-predisposing CNV regions. We confirm known regions and discover new ones including those covering KMT2C, GOLPH3, ERBB2 and PLAG1 Analysis of colorectal cancer genomes in particular reveals novel recurrent CNVs including deletions at two chromatin-remodeling genes RERE and NPM2 This method will be useful to many researchers interested in profiling CNVs from whole-genome sequencing data.
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.
Aberrant transcription of the pericentromeric human satellite II (HSATII) repeat is present in a wide variety of epithelial cancers. In deriving experimental systems to study its deregulation, we observed that HSATII expression is induced in colon cancer cells cultured as xenografts or under nonadherent conditions in vitro, but it is rapidly lost in standard 2D cultures. Unexpectedly, physiological induction of endogenous HSATII RNA, as well as introduction of synthetic HSATII transcripts, generated cDNA intermediates in the form of DNA/RNA hybrids. Single molecule sequencing of tumor xenografts showed that HSATII RNA-derived DNA (rdDNA) molecules are stably incorporated within pericentromeric loci. Suppression of RT activity using small molecule inhibitors reduced HSATII copy gain. Analysis of whole-genome sequencing data revealed that HSATII copy number gain is a common feature in primary human colon tumors and is associated with a lower overall survival. Together, our observations suggest that cancer-associated derepression of specific repetitive sequences can promote their RNA-driven genomic expansion, with potential implications on pericentromeric architecture.
Background: The classical genetic model of colorectal cancer presents APC mutations as the earliest genomic alterations, followed by KRAS and TP53 mutations. However, the timing and relative order of clonal expansion and other types of genomic alterations, such as genomic rearrangements, are still unclear.
Results: Here, we perform comprehensive bioinformatic analysis to dissect the relative timing of somatic genetic alterations in 63 colorectal cancers with whole-genome sequencing data. Utilizing allele fractions of somatic single nucleotide variants as molecular clocks while accounting for the presence of copy number changes and structural alterations, we identify key events in the evolution of colorectal tumors. We find that driver point mutations, gene fusions, and arm-level copy losses typically arise early in tumorigenesis; different mechanisms act on distinct genomic regions to drive DNA copy changes; and chromothripsis-clustered rearrangements previously thought to occur as a single catastrophic event-is frequent and may occur multiple times independently in the same tumor through different mechanisms. Furthermore, our computational approach reveals that, in contrast to recent studies, selection is often present on subclones and that multiple evolutionary models can operate in a single tumor at different stages.
Conclusion: Combining these results, we present a refined tumor progression model which significantly expands our understanding of the tumorigenic process of human colorectal cancer.
Keywords: Aneuploidy; Kataegis; Tumor evolution; Tumor heterogeneity.
Microsatellites are simple tandem repeats that are present at millions of loci in the human genome. Microsatellite instability (MSI) refers to DNA slippage events on microsatellites that occur frequently in cancer genomes when there is a defect in the DNA-mismatch repair system. These somatic mutations can result in inactivation of tumor-suppressor genes or disrupt other noncoding regulatory sequences, thereby playing a role in carcinogenesis. Here, we will discuss the ways in which high-throughput sequencing data can facilitate genome- or exome-wide discovery and more detailed investigation of MSI events in microsatellite-unstable cancer genomes. We will address the methodologic aspects of this approach and highlight insights from recent analyses of colorectal and endometrial cancer genomes from The Cancer Genome Atlas project. These include identification of novel MSI targets within and across tumor types and the relationship between the likelihood of MSI events to chromatin structure. Given the increasing popularity of exome and genome sequencing of cancer genomes, a comprehensive characterization of MSI may serve as a valuable marker of cancer evolution and aid in a search for therapeutic targets.
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.
MOTIVATION: DNA copy number aberrations (CNAs) and gene expression (GE) changes provide valuable information for studying chromosomal instability and its consequences in cancer. While it is clear that the structural aberrations and the transcript levels are intertwined, their relationship is more complex and subtle than initially suspected. Most studies so far have focused on how a CNA affects the expression levels of those genes contained within that CNA. RESULTS: To better understand the impact of CNAs on expression, we investigated the correlation of each CNA to all other genes in the genome. The correlations are computed over multiple patients that have both expression and copy number measurements in brain, bladder and breast cancer data sets. We find that a CNA has a direct impact on the gene amplified or deleted, but it also has a broad, indirect impact elsewhere. To identify a set of CNAs that is coordinately associated with the expression changes of a set of genes, we used a biclustering algorithm on the correlation matrix. For each of the three cancer types examined, the aberrations in several loci are associated with cancer-type specific biological pathways that have been described in the literature: CNAs of chromosome (chr) 7p13 were significantly correlated with epidermal growth factor receptor signaling pathway in glioblastoma multiforme, chr 13q with NF-kappaB cascades in bladder cancer, and chr 11p with Reck pathway in breast cancer. In all three data sets, gene sets related to cell cycle/division such as M phase, DNA replication and cell division were also associated with CNAs. Our results suggest that CNAs are both directly and indirectly correlated with changes in expression and that it is beneficial to examine the indirect effects of CNAs. AVAILABILITY: The code is available upon request.
Aneuploidy has been recognized as a hallmark of cancer for more than 100 years, yet no general theory to explain the recurring patterns of aneuploidy in cancer has emerged. Here, we develop Tumor Suppressor and Oncogene (TUSON) Explorer, a computational method that analyzes the patterns of mutational signatures in tumors and predicts the likelihood that any individual gene functions as a tumor suppressor (TSG) or oncogene (OG). By analyzing >8,200 tumor-normal pairs, we provide statistical evidence suggesting that many more genes possess cancer driver properties than anticipated, forming a continuum of oncogenic potential. Integrating our driver predictions with information on somatic copy number alterations, we find that the distribution and potency of TSGs (STOP genes), OGs, and essential genes (GO genes) on chromosomes can predict the complex patterns of aneuploidy and copy number variation characteristic of cancer genomes. We propose that the cancer genome is shaped through a process of cumulative haploinsufficiency and triplosensitivity.
Copy-number variation (CNV) is a major class of genomic variation with potentially important functional consequences in both normal and diseased populations. Remarkable advances in development of next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms provide an unprecedented opportunity for accurate, high-resolution characterization of CNVs. In this unit, we give an overview of available computational tools for detection of CNVs and discuss comparative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.
BACKGROUND: Recent advances in sequencing technologies have enabled generation of large-scale genome sequencing data. These data can be used to characterize a variety of genomic features, including the DNA copy number profile of a cancer genome. A robust and reliable method for screening chromosomal alterations would allow a detailed characterization of the cancer genome with unprecedented accuracy. RESULTS: We develop a method for identification of copy number alterations in a tumor genome compared to its matched control, based on application of Smith-Waterman algorithm to single-end sequencing data. In a performance test with simulated data, our algorithm shows >90% sensitivity and >90% precision in detecting a single copy number change that contains approximately 500 reads for the normal sample. With 100-bp reads, this corresponds to a ~50 kb region for 1X genome coverage of the human genome. We further refine the algorithm to develop rSW-seq, (recursive Smith-Waterman-seq) to identify alterations in a complex configuration, which are commonly observed in the human cancer genome. To validate our approach, we compare our algorithm with an existing algorithm using simulated and publicly available datasets. We also compare the sequencing-based profiles to microarray-based results. CONCLUSION: We propose rSW-seq as an efficient method for detecting copy number changes in the tumor genome.
UNLABELLED: Accurate estimation of DNA copy numbers from array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) data is important for characterizing the cancer genome. An important part of this process is the segmentation of the log-ratios between the sample and control DNA along the chromosome into regions of different copy numbers. However, multiple algorithms are available in the literature for this procedure and the results can vary substantially among these. Thus, a visualization tool that can display the segmented profiles from a number of methods can be helpful to the biologist or the clinician to ascertain that a feature of interest did not arise as an artifact of the algorithm. Such a tool also allows the methodologist to easily contrast his method against others. We developed a web-based tool that applies a number of popular algorithms to a single array CGH profile entered by the user. It generates a heatmap panel of the segmented profiles for each method as well as a consensus profile. The clickable heatmap can be moved along the chromosome and zoomed in or out. It also displays the time that each algorithm took and provides numerical values of the segmented profiles for download. The web interface calls algorithms written in the statistical language R. We encourage developers of new algorithms to submit their routines to be incorporated into the website. AVAILABILITY: http://compbio.med.harvard.edu/CGHweb.
MOTIVATION: Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) can reveal chromosomal aberrations in the genomic DNA. These amplifications and deletions at the DNA level are important in the pathogenesis of cancer and other diseases. While a large number of approaches have been proposed for analyzing the large array CGH datasets, the relative merits of these methods in practice are not clear. RESULTS: We compare 11 different algorithms for analyzing array CGH data. These include both segment detection methods and smoothing methods, based on diverse techniques such as mixture models, Hidden Markov Models, maximum likelihood, regression, wavelets and genetic algorithms. We compute the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves using simulated data to quantify sensitivity and specificity for various levels of signal-to-noise ratio and different sizes of abnormalities. We also characterize their performance on chromosomal regions of interest in a real dataset obtained from patients with Glioblastoma Multiforme. While comparisons of this type are difficult due to possibly sub-optimal choice of parameters in the methods, they nevertheless reveal general characteristics that are helpful to the biological investigator.
A large database of copy number profiles from cancer genomes can facilitate the identification of recurrent chromosomal alterations that often contain key cancer-related genes. It can also be used to explore low-prevalence genomic events such as chromothripsis. In this study, we report an analysis of 8227 human cancer copy number profiles obtained from 107 array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) studies. Our analysis reveals similarity of chromosomal arm-level alterations among developmentally related tumor types as well as a number of co-occurring pairs of arm-level alterations. Recurrent ("pan-lineage") focal alterations identified across diverse tumor types show an enrichment of known cancer-related genes and genes with relevant functions in cancer-associated phenotypes (e.g., kinase and cell cycle). Tumor type-specific ("lineage-restricted") alterations and their enriched functional categories were also identified. Furthermore, we developed an algorithm for detecting regions in which the copy number oscillates rapidly between fixed levels, indicative of chromothripsis. We observed these massive genomic rearrangements in 1%-2% of the samples with variable tumor type-specific incidence rates. Taken together, our comprehensive view of copy number alterations provides a framework for understanding the functional significance of various genomic alterations in cancer genomes.