Intratumor DNA methylation heterogeneity reflects clonal evolution in aggressive prostate cancer

Cell Rep. 2014 Aug 7;8(3):798-806. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.06.053. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Despite much evidence on epigenetic abnormalities in cancer, it is currently unclear to what extent epigenetic alterations can be associated with tumors' clonal genetic origins. Here, we show that the prostate intratumor heterogeneity in DNA methylation and copy-number patterns can be explained by a unified evolutionary process. By assaying multiple topographically distinct tumor sites, premalignant lesions, and lymph node metastases within five cases of prostate cancer, we demonstrate that both DNA methylation and copy-number heterogeneity consistently reflect the life history of the tumors. Furthermore, we show cases of genetic or epigenetic convergent evolution and highlight the diversity in the evolutionary origins and aberration spectrum between tumor and metastatic subclones. Importantly, DNA methylation can complement genetic data by serving as a proxy for activity at regulatory domains, as we show through identification of high epigenetic heterogeneity at androgen-receptor-bound enhancers. Epigenome variation thereby expands on the current genome-centric view on tumor heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Clonal Evolution*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology