Genome variation across cancers scales with tissue stiffness - an invasion-mutation mechanism and implications for immune cell infiltration

Curr Opin Syst Biol. 2017 Apr;2:103-114. doi: 10.1016/j.coisb.2017.04.005. Epub 2017 Apr 27.


Many different types of soft and solid tumors have now been sequenced, and meta-analyses suggest that genomic variation across tumors scales with the stiffness of the tumors' tissues of origin. The opinion expressed here is based on a review of current genomics data, and it considers multiple 'mechanogenomics' mechanisms to potentially explain this scaling of mutation rate with tissue stiffness. Since stiff solid tissues have higher density of fibrous collagen matrix, which should decrease tissue porosity, cancer cell proliferation could be affected and so could invasion into stiff tissues as the nucleus is squeezed sufficiently to enhance DNA damage. Diversification of a cancer genome after constricted migration is now clear. Understanding genome changes that give rise to neo-antigens is important to selection as well as to the development of immunotherapies, and we discuss engineered monocytes/macrophages as particularly relevant to understanding infiltration into solid tumors.