Mutational signatures reveal the dynamic interplay of risk factors and cellular process during liver tumorigenesis

Abstract : Cancer is a disease of the genome. A normal cell goes rogue and is transformed into a cancerous cell due to acquired somatic mutations in its genome. The catalogue of these somatic mutations observed in the cancer genome is the outcome of multiple mutational processes that have been operative over the lifetime of a patient. These mutational processes that have occurred throughout the development of cancer may be infidelity of the DNA replication machinery, impaired DNA repair system, enzymatic modifications of DNA, or exposures to exogenous or endogenous mutagens. Each mutational process leaves a characteristic pattern – a “mutational signature” on the cancer genome. Various genomic features related to genome architecture, including DNA replication and transcription, modulate these mutational processes. During my PhD, I analyzed whole exome and whole genome sequencing data from liver tumors to understand the mutational processes remodeling these tumor genomes, their interaction with risk factors, cellular processes, and driver genes, and their evolution along the tumor histories. For that aim, I used existing statistical methods and I developed innovative computational tools to:-extract mutational and structural variant signatures from next-generation sequencing data-identify risk factors or genetic alterations underlying each process-predict the mutational process at the origin of each somatic mutation-explore correlations between mutation rates and cellular processes like replication and transcription-reconstruct the clonal history of a tumor and the timing of mutational processes and copy-number changes These innovative analytical strategies allowed me to identify 10 mutational signatures: 5 ubiquitous signatures operative in every liver cancer but modulated by risk factors (gender, alcohol, tobacco), and 5 sporadic signatures operative in <5% of HCC and associated with specific known (aflatoxin B1, aristolochic acid) or unknown mutational processes. I also identified 6 structural variant signatures, including striking duplicator or deletor phenotypes in rare tumors. Each mutational process showed a different relationship with replication and transcription. Signatures of bulky DNA adducts (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aflatoxin B1, aristolochic acid) strongly decreased in highly expressed genes due to transcription-coupled repair, whereas the alcohol-related signature 16 displayed a unique feature of transcription-coupled damage. A striking positive correlation between indel rate and gene expression was observed, leading to recurrent mutations in very highly expressed tissue-specific genes. Finally, reconstructing the clonal history of HCC revealed the evolution of mutational processes along tumor development and identified synchronous chromosome duplications as late events probably leading to fast tumor growth and clinical detection of the tumor. Together, these findings shed new light on the mechanisms generating DNA alterations along the natural history of liver cancers.
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Submitted on : Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 4:53:29 PM
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Jayendra Shinde. Mutational signatures reveal the dynamic interplay of risk factors and cellular process during liver tumorigenesis. Human health and pathology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCC324⟩. ⟨tel-02366815⟩

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