Developmental timing of mutations revealed by whole-genome sequencing of twins with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 30;110(18):7429-33. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221099110. Epub 2013 Apr 8.


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the major pediatric cancer. At diagnosis, the developmental timing of mutations contributing critically to clonal diversification and selection can be buried in the leukemia's covert natural history. Concordance of ALL in monozygotic, monochorionic twins is a consequence of intraplacental spread of an initiated preleukemic clone. Studying monozygotic twins with ALL provides a unique means of uncovering the timeline of mutations contributing to clonal evolution, pre- and postnatally. We sequenced the whole genomes of leukemic cells from two twin pairs with ALL to comprehensively characterize acquired somatic mutations in ALL, elucidating the developmental timing of all genetic lesions. Shared, prenatal, coding-region single-nucleotide variants were limited to the putative initiating lesions. All other nonsynonymous single-nucleotide variants were distinct between tumors and, therefore, secondary and postnatal. These changes occurred in a background of noncoding mutational changes that were almost entirely discordant in twin pairs and likely passenger mutations acquired during leukemic cell proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Time Factors