Rxivist logo

Universal Patterns Of Selection In Cancer And Somatic Tissues

By Inigo Martincorena, Keiran M. Raine, Moritz Gerstung, Kevin J. Dawson, Kerstin Haase, Peter Van Loo, Helen Davies, Michael R. Stratton, Peter J. Campbell

Posted 29 Apr 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/132324 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.09.042)

Cancer develops as a result of somatic mutation and clonal selection, but quantitative measures of selection in cancer evolution are lacking. We applied methods from evolutionary genomics to 7,664 human cancers across 29 tumor types. Unlike species evolution, positive selection outweighs negative selection during cancer development. On average, <1 coding base substitution/tumor is lost through negative selection, with purifying selection only detected for truncating mutations in essential genes in haploid regions. This allows exome-wide enumeration of all driver mutations, including outside known cancer genes. On average, tumors carry ~4 coding substitutions under positive selection, ranging from <1/tumor in thyroid and testicular cancers to >10/tumor in endometrial and colorectal cancers. Half of driver substitutions occur in yet-to-be-discovered cancer genes. With increasing mutation burden, numbers of driver mutations increase, but not linearly. We identify novel cancer genes and show that genes vary extensively in what proportion of mutations are drivers versus passengers.

Download data

  • Downloaded 3,308 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 1,813 out of 101,039
    • In genomics: 355 out of 6,265
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 25,738 out of 101,039
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 86,573 out of 101,039

Altmetric data

Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide


Sign up for the Rxivist weekly newsletter! (Click here for more details.)


  • 20 Oct 2020: Support for sorting preprints using Twitter activity has been removed, at least temporarily, until a new source of social media activity data becomes available.
  • 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
  • 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
  • 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
  • 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
  • 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
  • 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
  • 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
  • 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!