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Intratumor heterogeneity in localized lung adenocarcinomas delineated by multiregion sequencing

Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 256-259
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256930

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Abstract

Cancers are composed of populations of cells with distinct molecular and phenotypic features, a phenomenon termed intratumor heterogeneity (ITH). ITH in lung cancers has not been well studied. We applied multiregion whole-exome sequencing (WES) on 11 localized lung adenocarcinomas. All tumors showed clear evidence of ITH. On average, 76% of all mutations and 20 out of 21 known cancer gene mutations were identified in all regions of individual tumors, which suggested that single-region sequencing may be adequate to identify the majority of known cancer gene mutations in localized lung adenocarcinomas. With a median follow-up of 21 months after surgery, three patients have relapsed, and all three patients had significantly larger fractions of subclonal mutations in their primary tumors than patients without relapse. These data indicate that a larger subclonal mutation fraction may be associated with increased likelihood of postsurgical relapse in patients with localized lung adenocarcinomas.

Space, time, and the lung cancer genome

Lung cancer poses a formidable challenge to clinical oncologists. It is often detected at a late stage, and most therapies work for only a short time before the tumors resume their relentless growth. Two independent analyses of the human lung cancer genome may help explain why this disease is so resilient (see the Perspective by Govindan). Rather than take a single “snapshot” of the cancer genome, de Bruin et al. and Zhang et al. identified genomic alterations in spatially distinct regions of single lung tumors and used this information to infer the tumor's evolutionary history. Each tumor showed tremendous spatial and temporal diversity in its mutational profiles. Thus, the efficacy of drugs may be short-lived because they destroy only a portion of the tumor.

Science, this issue p. 251, p. 256; see also p. 169

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