Spatio-Temporal Genomic Heterogeneity, Phylogeny, and Metastatic Evolution in Salivary Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 Oct 1;109(10):djx033. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djx033.


Background: Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), an uncommon and indolent salivary gland malignancy, is characterized by varied morphologic and clinical manifestations. Molecular genetic studies of ACC identified certain structural and mutational alterations that may play a driver role in tumor development. The evolution and regional consistency of these events in ACC development progression are uncertain.

Methods: To investigate the spatial and temporal clonal landscape of ACC, whole-genome sequencing and variant analyses were performed on 34 regionally sampled primary tumors and their concurrent and metachronous metastatic deposits from eight patients.

Results: The average mutation rate per case (primary and metastasis) was 0.32 per million base pairs, and the average incidence of shared mutations in primary and metastatic specimens in each case was 21.9% (range = 0%-44.4%). The analyses revealed considerable spatial clonal differences within and between primary tumors and metastatic disease. Phylogeny formation displayed branching evolution with a main trunk and two distinct mono-splits in all cases. One of the main branches represented intratumor subclonal diversity, and the other delineated metastatic departure and progression. All metastatic tumors shared clonal linkage to their matching primary in concordance with parallel dissemination of metastasis. Synchronous metastases were genomically more similar to their primary than metachronous metastatic disease. Truncal genetic alterations included somatic mutations in the NOTCH pathway genes (NOTCH1 and SPEN) and t(6;9) associated gene fusions.

Conclusions: Our study delineated clonal and subclonal phylogeny for primary and metastatic ACC, defined early genetic drivers, and provides a conceptual framework for a rational strategy to integrate heterogeneity in clinical assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology*
  • Clonal Evolution* / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Genomics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Phylogeny
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Time Factors