Analyses of non-coding somatic drivers in 2,658 cancer whole genomes


Rheinbay E, Nielsen MM, Abascal F, Wala JA, Shapira O, Tiao G, Hornshøj H, Hess JM, Juul RI, Lin Z, Feuerbach L, Sabarinathan R, Madsen T, Kim J, Mularoni L, Shuai S, Lanzós A, Herrmann C, Maruvka YE, Shen C, Amin SB, Bandopadhayay P, Bertl J, Boroevich KA, Busanovich J, Carlevaro-Fita J, Chakravarty D, Chan CWY, Craft D, Dhingra P, Diamanti K, Fonseca NA, Gonzalez-Perez A, Guo Q, Hamilton MP, Haradhvala NJ, Hong C, Isaev K, Johnson TA, Juul M, Kahles A, Kahraman A, Kim Y, Komorowski J, Kumar K, Kumar S, Lee D, Lehmann K-V, Li Y, Liu EM, Lochovsky L, Park K, Pich O, Roberts ND, Saksena G, Schumacher SE, Sidiropoulos N, Sieverling L, Sinnott-Armstrong N, Stewart C, Tamborero D, Tubio JMC, Umer HM, Uusküla-Reimand L, Wadelius C, Wadi L, Yao X, Zhang C-Z, Zhang J, Haber JE, Hobolth A, Imielinski M, Kellis M, Lawrence MS, von Mering C, Nakagawa H, Raphael BJ, Rubin MA, Sander C, Stein LD, Stuart JM, Tsunoda T, Wheeler DA, Johnson R, Reimand J, Gerstein M, Khurana E, Campbell PJ, López-Bigas N, and Group PCAWGDFIW, PCAWG Structural Variation Working Group (incl. Lee EA), Weischenfeldt J, Beroukhim R, Martincorena I, Pedersen JS, Getz G, Getz G. Analyses of non-coding somatic drivers in 2,658 cancer whole genomes. Nature 2020;578(7793):102-111.

Date Published:

2020 02


The discovery of drivers of cancer has traditionally focused on protein-coding genes. Here we present analyses of driver point mutations and structural variants in non-coding regions across 2,658 genomes from the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). For point mutations, we developed a statistically rigorous strategy for combining significance levels from multiple methods of driver discovery that overcomes the limitations of individual methods. For structural variants, we present two methods of driver discovery, and identify regions that are significantly affected by recurrent breakpoints and recurrent somatic juxtapositions. Our analyses confirm previously reported drivers, raise doubts about others and identify novel candidates, including point mutations in the 5' region of TP53, in the 3' untranslated regions of NFKBIZ and TOB1, focal deletions in BRD4 and rearrangements in the loci of AKR1C genes. We show that although point mutations and structural variants that drive cancer are less frequent in non-coding genes and regulatory sequences than in protein-coding genes, additional examples of these drivers will be found as more cancer genomes become available.

Last updated on 06/30/2020