Germline genomic patterns are associated with cancer risk, oncogenic pathways, and clinical outcomes

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Science Advances  27 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 48, eaba4905
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4905


There is an ongoing debate on the importance of genetic factors in cancer development, where gene-centered cancer predisposition seems to show that only 5 to 10% of the cancer cases are inheritable. By conducting a systematic analysis of germline genomes of 9712 cancer patients representing 22 common cancer types along with 16,670 noncancer individuals, we identified seven cancer-associated germline genomic patterns (CGGPs), which summarized trinucleotide mutational spectra of germline genomes. A few CGGPs were consistently enriched in the germline genomes of patients whose tumors had smoking signatures or correlated with oncogenesis- and genome instability–related mutations. Furthermore, subgroups defined by the CGGPs were significantly associated with distinct oncogenic pathways, tumor histological subtypes, and prognosis in 13 common cancer types, suggesting that germline genomic patterns enable to inform treatment and clinical outcomes. These results provided evidence that cancer risk and clinical outcomes could be encoded in germline genomes.

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