Exploring background mutational processes to decipher cancer genetic heterogeneity

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jul 3;45(W1):W514-W522. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx367.


Much remains unknown about the progression and heterogeneity of mutational processes in different cancers and their diagnostic and clinical potential. A growing body of evidence supports mutation rate dependence on the local DNA sequence context for various types of mutations. We propose several tools for the analysis of cancer context-dependent mutations, which are implemented in an online computational framework MutaGene. The framework explores DNA context-dependent mutational patterns and underlying somatic cancer mutagenesis, analyzes mutational profiles of cancer samples, identifies the combinations of underlying mutagenic processes including those related to infidelity of DNA replication and repair machinery, and various other endogenous and exogenous mutagenic factors. As a result, the combination of mutagenic processes can be identified in any query sample with subsequent comparison to mutational profiles derived from malignant and benign samples. In addition, mutagen or cancer-specific mutational background models are applied to calculate expected DNA and protein site mutability to decouple relative contributions of mutagenesis and selection in carcinogenesis, thus elucidating the site-specific driving events in cancer. MutaGene is freely available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/mutagene/.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Software*