Identification of metastasis driver genes by massive parallel sequencing of successive steps of breast cancer progression

Anne Bruun Krøigård, Martin Jakob Larsen, Anne-Vibeke Lænkholm, Ann S Knoop, Jeanette Dupont Jensen, Martin Bak, Jan Mollenhauer, Mads Thomassen, Torben A Kruse

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Cancer results from alterations at essential genomic sites and is characterized by uncontrolled cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis. Identification of driver genes of metastatic progression is essential, as metastases, not primary tumors, are fatal. To gain insight into the mutational concordance between different steps of malignant progression we performed exome sequencing and validation with targeted deep sequencing of successive steps of malignant progression from pre-invasive stages to asynchronous distant metastases in six breast cancer patients. Using the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous mutations, a surprisingly large number of cancer driver genes, ranging between 3 and 145, were estimated to confer a selective advantage in the studied primary tumors. We report a substantial amount of metastasis specific mutations and a number of novel putative metastasis driver genes. Most notable are the DCC, ABCA13, TIAM2, CREBBP, BCL6B and ZNF185 genes, mainly mutated exclusively in metastases and highly likely driver genes of metastatic progression. We find different genes and pathways to be affected at different steps of malignant progression. The Adherens junction pathway is affected in four of the six studied patients and this pathway most likely plays a vital role in the metastatic process.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0189887
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jan 2018


  • Journal Article


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