Background: Brain metastases are the most frequently occurring intracranial tumors in adults. Median survival after the diagnosis of a brain metastasis is in the order of a few months. Despite its large burden of disease and devastating clinical sequelae, we continue to have a limited understanding of how brain metastases evolve from their primary tumor. Our objectives were to (1) elucidate the evolutionary patterns leading the brain metastases and (2) identify whether brain metastases are genetically distinct from their matched primary tumors.
Materials and Methods: We subjected 101 trios consisting of primary tumor, brain metastasis, and matched normal tissue to whole exome sequencing (WES). To analyze the data, we developed novel computational tools to perform an integrative analysis of somatic single nucleotide variants (SSNVs) and somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs). This analysis allowed us to estimate the clonal architecture of the primary and metastatic samples from each patient, and to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree relating all of the subclones.Results: Every metastasis developed from a single clone, consistent with a single cell of origin. We did not detect evidence of self-seeding or a multiclonal origin of metastasis. In all cases, we observed a sibling or a branched evolutionary relationship; the brain metastasis and primary tumor share a common ancestor, but there was continued evolution in the primary tumor reflected by fully clonal mutations in the primary biopsy that were not present in the metastasis. When we average over all the phylogenetic trees, 61% of mutations are present in the common ancestor, 24% are unique to the metastasis and 15% are unique to the primary tumor. Subclonal mutations in the metastasis by definition occurred within the brain; these mutations displayed different mutational signatures than those acquired in the primary tumor. These contrasts were most pronounced in cases of lung cancer or melanoma, with tobacco and UV signatures prominent in these primaries and nearly absent from the mutations acquired after metastasis. In order to understand the molecular drivers of clonal evolution and metastasis in our data, we annotated each subclone with driver mutations identified using large numbers of cancer samples analyzed by the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) consortium. This produced a detailed portrait of each patient's cancer, with nearly node in each phylogenetic tree associated with at least one known driver. We found novel drivers, many of which are known actionable targets, in the clonal and subclonal populations within the brain metastases that were not present in the primary tumor. This suggests ongoing evolution within the brain. Similarly, novel subclonal and clonal drivers were detected in the biopsy of the primary tumor that were not present in the metastasis. The brain metastases were enriched for several pathways when compared to their matched primary tumors, some pathways specific to a particular histologic subtype.Conclusions: In this study, we report the latest results of the largest massively parallel sequencing study to date of matched brain metastases and primary tumors. We used intratumoral heterogeneity estimates to elucidate the evolutionary patterns observed in the process of metastasis. This study shifts our understanding of the metastasis paradigm and sheds light on the evolutionary and molecular mechanisms that are critical for brain metastasis. Our data suggests that single biopsies do not capture the heterogeneity within patients. Assessment of the subclonal phylogenetic architecture of primaries and their metastases should be considered when selecting targeted agents for patients with brain metastases.
Citation Format: Priscilla K. Brastianos, Scott L. Carter, Sandro Santagata, Amaro Taylor-Weiner, Robert T. Jones, Peleg M. Horowitz, Keith L. Ligon, Joan Seaone, Elena Martinez-Saez, Josep Tabernero, Daniel P. Cahill, Sun-Ha Paek, Ian F. Dunn, Bruce E. Johnson, Toni K. Choueiri, Michael S. Rabin, Eric P. Winer, Nancy U. Lin, Paul Van Hummelen, Anat Stemmer-Rachamimov, Rameen Beroukhim, David L. Louis, Tracy T. Batchelor, Jose Baselga, Gad Getz, William C. Hahn. Genomic characterization of 101 brain metastases and paired primary tumors reveals patterns of clonal evolution and selection of driver mutations. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2014 Apr 5-9; San Diego, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2014;74(19 Suppl):Abstract nr NG03. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2014-NG03