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Circumventing intratumoral heterogeneity to identify potential therapeutic targets in hepatocellular carcinoma. Details please contact lifuqiang@genomics and zhaoxin@genomics.cn.

Background and aims: Intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) challenges identifying mutations with target therapy potential whereas circulating cell-free DNAs (cfDNAs) could reflect nearly the entire mutation spectrum in given tumors. We investigated how to minimize the limit of ITH for profiling hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).Methods: Thirty-two multi-regional HCC samples from five patients were subjected to whole exome sequencing (WES) and targeted deep sequencing (TDS). ITH extent was measured by the average percentage of non-ubiquitous mutations (present in parts of tumor regions). Matched cfDNAs were also analyzed by WES and TDS. Profiling efficiencies of single tumor specimen and cfDNA were compared and the one better depicted mutational landscape was selected to screen therapeutic targets.Results: We found variable extents of ITH in HCCs and observed branched and parallel evolution patterns. ITH level decreased at higher sequencing depth of TDS than that measured by WES (28.1% vs 34.9%, P < 0.01) but it remained unchanged upon additional samples analyzed. TDS of single tumor specimen detected an average of 70% the total mutations in HCC. Although more mutations were detected in cfDNA under TDS than WES, an average of 47.2% total HCC mutations uncovered by cfDNA suggested tissue outperform cfDNA and the latter may serve as alternative in profiling HCC genome. Consequently, TDS of single tumor tissue in 66 patients and cfDNAs in four unresectable HCCs identified 38.6% (26/66 and 1/4) patients bearing therapeutic targets.Conclusions: TDS of single tumor specimen could largely circumvent ITH to uncover mutations indicative of target therapy in HCC.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001003278 Illumina HiSeq 4000 124
Publications Citations
Circumventing intratumoral heterogeneity to identify potential therapeutic targets in hepatocellular carcinoma.
J Hepatol 67: 2017 293-301
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