Cancer is a clonal evolutionary process, caused by successive accumulation of genetic alterations providing milestones of tumor initiation, progression, dissemination and/or resistance to certain therapeutic regimes. To unravel these milestones we propose a framework, tumor evolutionary directed graphs (TEDG), which is able to characterize the history of genetic alterations by integrating longitudinal and cross-sectional genomic data. We applied TEDG to a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cohort of 70 patients spanning 12 years, and show that: (a) the evolution of CLL follows a time-ordered process represented as a global flow in TEDG that proceeds from initiating events to late events; (b) there are two distinct and mutually exclusive evolutionary paths of CLL evolution; (c) higher fitness clones are present in later stages of the disease, indicating a progressive clonal replacement with more aggressive clones. Our results suggest that TEDG may constitute an effective framework to recapitulate the evolutionary history of tumors.
Human subjects: The study was approved by the institutional ethical committee of the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universiataria Maggiore della Carita di Novara affiliated with the Amedeo Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont, Novara, Italy (Protocol Code 59/CE; Study Number CE 8/11). Patients provided informed consent in accordance with local IRB requirements and Declaration of Helsinki
- Emmanouil T Dermitzakis, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland
© 2014, Wang et al.
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CRISPR/Cas9 provides a highly efficient and flexible genome editing technology with numerous potential applications ranging from gene therapy to population control. Some proposed applications involve the integration of CRISPR/Cas9 endonucleases into an organism's genome, which raises questions about potentially harmful effects to the transgenic individuals. One example for which this is particularly relevant are CRISPR-based gene drives conceived for the genetic alteration of entire populations. The performance of such drives can strongly depend on fitness costs experienced by drive carriers, yet relatively little is known about the magnitude and causes of these costs. Here, we assess the fitness effects of genomic CRISPR/Cas9 expression in Drosophila melanogaster cage populations by tracking allele frequencies of four different transgenic constructs that allow us to disentangle 'direct' fitness costs due to the integration, expression, and target-site activity of Cas9, from fitness costs due to potential off-target cleavage. Using a maximum likelihood framework, we find that a model with no direct fitness costs but moderate costs due to off-target effects fits our cage data best. Consistent with this, we do not observe fitness costs for a construct with Cas9HF1, a high-fidelity version of Cas9. We further demonstrate that using Cas9HF1 instead of standard Cas9 in a homing drive achieves similar drive conversion efficiency. These results suggest that gene drives should be designed with high-fidelity endonucleases and may have implications for other applications that involve genomic integration of CRISPR endonucleases.
Evolutionary theories predict that sibling relationships will reflect a complex balance of cooperative and competitive dynamics. In most mammals, dispersal and death patterns mean that sibling relationships occur in a relatively narrow window during development, and/or only with same-sex individuals. Besides humans, one notable exception are mountain gorillas, in which non-sex biased dispersal, relatively stable group composition, and the long reproductive tenures of alpha males mean that animals routinely reside with both maternally and paternally related siblings, of the same and opposite sex, throughout their lives. Using nearly 40,000 hours of behavioral data collected over 14 years on 699 sibling and 1235 non-sibling pairs of wild mountain gorillas, we demonstrate that individuals have strong affiliative preferences for full and maternal siblings over paternal siblings or unrelated animals, consistent with an inability to discriminate paternal kin. Intriguingly, however, aggression data imply the opposite. Aggression rates were statistically indistinguishable among all types of dyads except one: in mixed-sex dyads, non-siblings engaged in substantially more aggression than siblings of any type. This pattern suggests mountain gorillas may be capable of distinguishing paternal kin, but nonetheless choose not to affiliate with them over non-kin. We observe a preference for maternal kin in a species with high reproductive skew (i.e., high relatedness certainty), even though low reproductive skew (i.e., low relatedness certainty) is believed to underlie such biases in other non-human primates. Our results call into question reasons for strong maternal kin biases when paternal kin are identifiable, familiar, and similarly likely to be long-term groupmates, and they may also suggest behavioral mismatches at play during a transitional period in mountain gorilla society.