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Ultra-sensitive sequencing for cancer detection reveals progressive clonal selection in normal tissue over a century of human lifespan

By Jesse J. Salk, Kaitlyn Loubet-Senear, Elisabeth Maritschnegg, Charles C. Valentine, Lindsey N Williams, Reinhard Horvat, Adriaan Vanderstichele, Daniela Nachmanson, Kathryn T. Baker, Mary J Emond, Emily Loter, Thierry Soussi, Lawrence A Loeb, Robert Zeillinger, Paul Speiser, Rosa Ana Risques

Posted 04 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/457291 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.109)

High accuracy next-generation DNA sequencing promises a paradigm shift in early cancer detection by enabling the identification of mutant cancer molecules in minimally-invasive body fluid samples. We demonstrate 80% sensitivity for ovarian cancer detection using ultra-accurate Duplex Sequencing to identify TP53 mutations in uterine lavage. However, in addition to tumor DNA, we also detect low frequency TP53 mutations in nearly all lavages from women with and without cancer. These mutations increase with age and share the selection traits of clonal TP53 mutations commonly found in human tumors. We show that low frequency TP53 mutations exist in multiple healthy tissues, from newborn to centenarian, and progressively increase in abundance and pathogenicity with older age across tissue types. Our results illustrate that subclonal cancer evolutionary processes are a ubiquitous part of normal human aging and great care must be taken to distinguish tumor-derived, from age-associated mutations in high sensitivity clinical cancer diagnostics.

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