High-resolution clonal mapping of multi-organ metastasis in triple negative breast cancer

Nat Commun. 2018 Nov 29;9(1):5079. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07406-4.


Most triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are aggressively metastatic with a high degree of intra-tumoral heterogeneity (ITH), but how ITH contributes to metastasis is unclear. Here, clonal dynamics during metastasis were studied in vivo using two patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models established from the treatment-naive primary breast tumors of TNBC patients diagnosed with synchronous metastasis. Genomic sequencing and high-complexity barcode-mediated clonal tracking reveal robust alterations in clonal architecture between primary tumors and corresponding metastases. Polyclonal seeding and maintenance of heterogeneous populations of low-abundance subclones is observed in each metastasis. However, lung, liver, and brain metastases are enriched for an identical population of high-abundance subclones, demonstrating that primary tumor clones harbor properties enabling them to seed and thrive in multiple organ sites. Further, clones that dominate multi-organ metastases share a genomic lineage. Thus, intrinsic properties of rare primary tumor subclones enable the seeding and colonization of metastases in secondary organs in these models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays