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Multi-regional Sequencing Reveals Intratumor Heterogeneity and Positive Selection of Somatic mtDNA Mutations in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Colorectal Cancer.


Recent studies have revealed significant intratumor heterogeneity (ITH) of nuclear genome mutations and highlighted its function in tumor progression and treatment resistance. However, the ITH of somatic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations detected in cancers remains unknown. In this study, we performed multi-regional mtDNA sequencing of tumor and paratumor tissue samples from 12 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and 13 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. A substantial level of mtDNA mutations was found in paired non-HCC inflammatory tissues, suggesting that these tissues might not be mtDNA-genetically "normal". Moreover, our data indicated that the ITH of somatic mtDNA mutations was a common feature in HCC and CRC patients. In addition, we found that shared mutations which were observed in at least 2 samples in each patient exhibited a significantly higher heteroplasmic level than mutations that were private to a specific tumor region from both HCC (P = 0.039) and CRC patients (P = 0.001). The heteroplasmic level of shared mutations was positively correlated with intratumoral recurrence of mtDNA mutations. We also found that shared mutations in tumor tissues with a higher degree of pathogenicity risk exhibited a higher heteroplasmic level and intratumoral recurrence in both HCC and CRC patients. These findings suggest that some mtDNA mutations may undergo positive selection during the clonal expansion. Taken together, our analyses identified various levels of ITH of somatic mtDNA mutations in HCC and CRC patients and provided evidence supporting the positive selection working on some somatic mtDNA mutations in tumor tissues. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. © 2018 UICC.