Tumors have genetically distinct subclones that compete for space and resources and differentially resist efforts to make them extinct. We studied the intratumoral heterogeneity of BRAF mutations across several cancer types. We identified BRAF driver mutations as predominately clonal in some cancer types (e.g. melanoma) and subclonal in others (e.g. lung adenocarcinoma). Clonality corresponded to the amplification of BRAF and prevalence of V600 mutations in each cancer type. We mathematically and experimentally modeled the propagation and selection of tumors containing BRAF mutations and determined that the speed of clonal sweeps were associated with the extent of activation of MAPK signaling pathway and BRAF copy number. Consistent with these findings, tumors with "hard" sweeps were more likely to respond to BRAF and/or MEK inhibitors. Furthermore, some PDX models treated with cytotoxic therapy underwent BRAF mutant subclone expansion over time and this effect is mitigated by inhibitors of BRAF and/or MEK. Treatment strategies based on subclone composition resulted in significantly improved tumor control. Our study uncovers patterns of distinct BRAF clonal evolutionary trajectories and advances therapeutic strategies on the basis of BRAF mutation identity and subclone composition that merit testing in patients.
Citation Format: Priyanka Gopal, Elif I. Sarihan, Mohamed E. Abazeed. Subclonal variation and evolutionary dynamics of BRAF mutations in cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 2194.