Multiclonality and Marked Branched Evolution of Low-Grade Endometrioid Endometrial Carcinoma

Mol Cancer Res. 2019 Mar;17(3):731-740. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-1178. Epub 2019 Jan 4.


The molecular events driving low-grade endometrioid endometrial carcinoma (LGEC) development-like in many cancers-are incompletely understood. Hence, here we performed multiregion, comprehensive somatic molecular profiling of routinely processed formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) material from 13 cases of LGEC totaling 64 minute, spatially defined cell populations ranging from presumed precursor lesions through invasive LGEC. Shared driving PTEN, PIK3R1, or PIK3CA mutations support clonal origin of the samples in each case, except for two cases with two clonally distinct neoplastic populations, consistent with unexpected multiclonality in LGEC development. Although substantial heterogeneity in driving somatic alterations was present across populations in nearly all cases, these alterations were usually clonal in a given population, supporting continued selection and clonal sweeping of driving alterations in populations with both precursor and LGEC histology. Importantly, CTNNB1 mutational status, which has been proposed as both prognostic and predictive in LGEC, was frequently heterogeneous and subclonal, occurring both exclusively in precursor or cancer populations in different cases. Whole-transcriptome profiling of coisolated RNA from 12 lesions (from 5 cases) was robust and confirmed histologic and molecular heterogeneity, including activated Wnt signaling in CTNNB1-mutant versus wild-type populations. Taken together, we demonstrate clinically relevant multiclonality and intratumoral heterogeneity during LGEC development with important implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic prediction. More broadly, our methodology is broadly scalable to enable high-throughput genomic and transcriptomic characterization of precursor and invasive cancer populations from routine FFPE specimens. IMPLICATIONS: Multiregion profiling of LGEC populations using a highly scalable approach demonstrates clinically relevant multiclonality and intratumoral heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / pathology
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Class Ia Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • Paraffin Embedding


  • PIK3R1 protein, human
  • Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Class Ia Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase
  • PIK3CA protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human