Clone decomposition based on mutation signatures provides novel insights into mutational processes

Taro Matsutani*, Michiaki Hamada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intra-tumor heterogeneity is a phenomenon in which mutation profiles differ from cell to cell within the same tumor and is observed in almost all tumors. Understanding intra-tumor heterogeneity is essential from the clinical perspective. Numerous methods have been developed to predict this phenomenon based on variant allele frequency. Among the methods, CloneSig models the variant allele frequency and mutation signatures simultaneously and provides an accurate clone decomposition. However, this method has limitations in terms of clone number selection and modeling. We propose SigTracer, a novel hierarchical Bayesian approach for analyzing intra-tumor heterogeneity based on mutation signatures to tackle these issues. We show that SigTracer predicts more reasonable clone decompositions than the existing methods against artificial data that mimic cancer genomes. We applied SigTracer to whole-genome sequences of blood cancer samples. The results were consistent with past findings that single base substitutions caused by a specific signature (previously reported as SBS9) related to the activation-induced cytidine deaminase intensively lie within immunoglobulin-coding regions for chronic lymphocytic leukemia samples. Furthermore, we showed that this signature mutates regions responsible for cell-cell adhesion. Accurate assignments of mutations to signatures by SigTracer can provide novel insights into signature origins and mutational processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberlqab093
JournalNAR Genomics and Bioinformatics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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