domingo, 11 de marzo de 2012

Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing — NEJM

Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing — NEJM

Original Article

Intratumor Heterogeneity and Branched Evolution Revealed by Multiregion Sequencing

Marco Gerlinger, M.D., Andrew J. Rowan, B.Sc., Stuart Horswell, M.Math., James Larkin, M.D., Ph.D., David Endesfelder, Dip.Math., Eva Gronroos, Ph.D., Pierre Martinez, Ph.D., Nicholas Matthews, B.Sc., Aengus Stewart, M.Sc., Patrick Tarpey, Ph.D., Ignacio Varela, Ph.D., Benjamin Phillimore, B.Sc., Sharmin Begum, M.Sc., Neil Q. McDonald, Ph.D., Adam Butler, B.Sc., David Jones, M.Sc., Keiran Raine, M.Sc., Calli Latimer, B.Sc., Claudio R. Santos, Ph.D., Mahrokh Nohadani, H.N.C., Aron C. Eklund, Ph.D., Bradley Spencer-Dene, Ph.D., Graham Clark, B.Sc., Lisa Pickering, M.D., Ph.D., Gordon Stamp, M.D., Martin Gore, M.D., Ph.D., Zoltan Szallasi, M.D., Julian Downward, Ph.D., P. Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., and Charles Swanton, M.D., Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 2012; 366:883-892March 8, 2012
Comments open through March 14, 2012


Intratumor heterogeneity may foster tumor evolution and adaptation and hinder personalized-medicine strategies that depend on results from single tumor-biopsy samples.


To examine intratumor heterogeneity, we performed exome sequencing, chromosome aberration analysis, and ploidy profiling on multiple spatially separated samples obtained from primary renal carcinomas and associated metastatic sites. We characterized the consequences of intratumor heterogeneity using immunohistochemical analysis, mutation functional analysis, and profiling of messenger RNA expression.


Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed branched evolutionary tumor growth, with 63 to 69% of all somatic mutations not detectable across every tumor region. Intratumor heterogeneity was observed for a mutation within an autoinhibitory domain of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, correlating with S6 and 4EBP phosphorylation in vivo and constitutive activation of mTOR kinase activity in vitro. Mutational intratumor heterogeneity was seen for multiple tumor-suppressor genes converging on loss of function; SETD2, PTEN, and KDM5C underwent multiple distinct and spatially separated inactivating mutations within a single tumor, suggesting convergent phenotypic evolution. Gene-expression signatures of good and poor prognosis were detected in different regions of the same tumor. Allelic composition and ploidy profiling analysis revealed extensive intratumor heterogeneity, with 26 of 30 tumor samples from four tumors harboring divergent allelic-imbalance profiles and with ploidy heterogeneity in two of four tumors.


Intratumor heterogeneity can lead to underestimation of the tumor genomics landscape portrayed from single tumor-biopsy samples and may present major challenges to personalized-medicine and biomarker development. Intratumor heterogeneity, associated with heterogeneous protein function, may foster tumor adaptation and therapeutic failure through Darwinian selection. (Funded by the Medical Research Council and others.)

1 comentario:

  1. This "intratumor heterogeneity" issue is not a new revelation to cell function analysis. As you can see, searching for these genetic predispositions, it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. One can chase all the mutations they want, because if you miss just one, it may be the one that gets through. Or you can look for the drugs that are "sensitive" to killing all of your cancer cells, not theoretical candidates.

    Testing of one sample of the tumor may well not render an accurate environment, unless you are recognizing the interplay between cells, stroma, vascular elements, cytokines, macrophages, lymphocytes and other environmental factors. The human tumor primary culture microspheroid contains all of these elements. Studying cancer response to drugs within this microenvironment would provide clinically relevant predictions to cancer patients. It is the capacity to study human tumor microenvironments that distinguishes it from other platforms in the field.

    They have observed some degree of "genetic drift" where mets tend to be somewhat more resistant to drugs than primaries. Over the years, they have often encouraged physicians to provide nodal, pleural or distant site biopsies to give the "best shot" at the "most defended" of the tumor elements when metastatic disease is found.

    The tumor of origin (as in the NEJM study as well) and the associated mets tend to retain consanguinity. That is, the carcinogenic processes that underlie the two populations are related. This is the reason they do not see "mixed responses" (one place in the body getting better and another place in the body getting worse), but instead, generally see response or non-responses.

    Heterogeneity likely underlies the recurrences that are seen in almost all patients. This is why they try to re-biopsy and re-evaluate when recurrences are observed. Heterogeneity remains a theoretical issue no matter what platform one uses. Why complicate this fact by using a less biologically relevant method like genomics that only scratches the surface of the tumor biology?

    Human beings are demonstrably more than the sum of their genes. Cancer biology and the study of cancer therapy are many things, but simple is not one of them. Complex problems require solutions that incorporate all of their complexities, however uncomfortable this may be for genomic investigators.

    Contrary to analyte-based genomic and proteomic methodologies that yield static measures of gene or protein expression, functional profiling provides a window on the complexity of cellular biology in real-time, gauging tumor cell response to chemotherapies in a laboratory platform.

    By examining drug induced cell death, functional analyses measure the cumulative result of all of a cell's mechanisms of resistance and response acting in concert. Thus, functional profiling most closely approximates the cancer phenotype.