The majority of newly diagnosed prostate cancers are slow growing, with a long natural life history. Yet a subset can metastasize with lethal consequences. We reconstructed the phylogenies of 293 localized prostate tumors linked to clinical outcome data. Multiple subclones were detected in 59% of patients, and specific subclonal architectures associate with adverse clinicopathological features. Early tumor development is characterized by point mutations and deletions followed by later subclonal amplifications and changes in trinucleotide mutational signatures. Specific genes are selectively mutated prior to or following subclonal diversification, including MTOR, NKX3-1, and RB1. Patients with low-risk monoclonal tumors rarely relapse after primary therapy (7%), while those with high-risk polyclonal tumors frequently do (61%). The presence of multiple subclones in an index biopsy may be necessary, but not sufficient, for relapse of localized prostate cancer, suggesting that evolution-aware biomarkers should be studied in prospective studies of low-risk tumors suitable for active surveillance.
Keywords: biomarkers; genomics; intra-tumoral heterogeneity; mutational signatures; prognosis; prostate cancer; subclonal reconstruction; subclonality; tumor evolution.
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