Next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) projects, such as the 1000 Genomes Project, are already revolutionizing our understanding of genetic variation among individuals. However, the massive data sets generated by NGS—the 1000 Genome pilot alone includes nearly five terabases—make writing feature-rich, efficient, and robust analysis tools difficult for even computationally sophisticated individuals. Indeed, many professionals are limited in the scope and the ease with which they can answer scientific questions by the complexity of accessing and manipulating the data produced by these machines. Here, we discuss our Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), a structured programming framework designed to ease the development of efficient and robust analysis tools for next-generation DNA sequencers using the functional programming philosophy of MapReduce. The GATK provides a small but rich set of data access patterns that encompass the majority of analysis tool needs. Separating specific analysis calculations from common data management infrastructure enables us to optimize the GATK framework for correctness, stability, and CPU and memory efficiency and to enable distributed and shared memory parallelization. We highlight the capabilities of the GATK by describing the implementation and application of robust, scale-tolerant tools like coverage calculators and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) calling. We conclude that the GATK programming framework enables developers and analysts to quickly and easily write efficient and robust NGS tools, many of which have already been incorporated into large-scale sequencing projects like the 1000 Genomes Project and The Cancer Genome Atlas.
Recent advances in sequencing technology make it possible to comprehensively catalogue genetic variation in population samples, creating a foundation for understanding human disease, ancestry and evolution. The amounts of raw data produced are prodigious and many computational steps are required to translate this output into high-quality variant calls. We present a unified analytic framework to discover and genotype variation among multiple samples simultaneously that achieves sensitive and specific results across five sequencing technologies and three distinct, canonical experimental designs. Our process includes (1) initial read mapping; (2) local realignment around indels; (3) base quality score recalibration; (4) SNP discovery and genotyping to find all potential variants; and (5) machine learning to separate true segregating variation from machine artifacts common to next-generation sequencing technologies. We discuss the application of these tools, instantiated in the Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), to deep whole-genome, whole-exome capture, and multi-sample low-pass (~4×) 1000 Genomes Project datasets.
Summary The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project has analyzed mRNA expression, miRNA expression, promoter methylation, and DNA copy number in 489 high-grade serous ovarian adenocarcinomas (HGS-OvCa) and the DNA sequences of exons from coding genes in 316 of these tumors. These results show that HGS-OvCa is characterized by TP53 mutations in almost all tumors (96%); low prevalence but statistically recurrent somatic mutations in 9 additional genes including NF1, BRCA1, BRCA2, RB1, and CDK12; 113 significant focal DNA copy number aberrations; and promoter methylation events involving 168 genes. Analyses delineated four ovarian cancer transcriptional subtypes, three miRNA subtypes, four promoter methylation subtypes, a transcriptional signature associated with survival duration and shed new light on the impact on survival of tumors with BRCA1/2 and CCNE1 aberrations. Pathway analyses suggested that homologous recombination is defective in about half of tumors, and that Notch and FOXM1 signaling are involved in serous ovarian cancer pathophysiology.
As this was an opportunistic secondary use study, we did not recruit any participants.
Summary To characterize somatic alterations in colorectal carcinoma (CRC), we conducted genome-scale analysis of 276 samples, analyzing exome sequence, DNA copy number, promoter methylation, mRNA and microRNA expression. A subset (97) underwent low-depth-of-coverage whole-genome sequencing. 16% of CRC have hypermutation, three quarters of which have the expected high microsatellite instability (MSI), usually with hypermethylation and MLH1 silencing, but one quarter has somatic mismatch repair gene mutations. Excluding hypermutated cancers, colon and rectum cancers have remarkably similar patterns of genomic alteration. Twenty-four genes are significantly mutated. In addition to the expected APC, TP53, SMAD4, PIK3CA and KRAS mutations, we found frequent mutations in ARID1A, SOX9, and FAM123B/WTX. Recurrent copy number alterations include potentially drug-targetable amplifications of ERBB2 and newly discovered amplification of IGF2. Recurrent chromosomal translocations include fusion of NAV2 and WNT pathway member TCF7L1. Integrative analyses suggest new markers for aggressive CRC and important role for MYC-directed transcriptional activation and repression.
Major international projects are now underway aimed at creating a comprehensive catalog of all genes responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer. These studies involve sequencing of matched tumor–normal samples followed by mathematical analysis to identify those genes in which mutations occur more frequently than expected by random chance. Here, we describe a fundamental problem with cancer genome studies: as the sample size increases, the list of putatively significant genes produced by current analytical methods burgeons into the hundreds. The list includes many implausible genes (such as those encoding olfactory receptors and the muscle protein titin), suggesting extensive false positive findings that overshadow true driver events. Here, we show that this problem stems largely from mutational heterogeneity and provide a novel analytical methodology, MutSigCV, for resolving the problem. We apply MutSigCV to exome sequences from 3,083 tumor-normal pairs and discover extraordinary variation in (i) mutation frequency and spectrum within cancer types, which shed light on mutational processes and disease etiology, and (ii) mutation frequency across the genome, which is strongly correlated with DNA replication timing and also with transcriptional activity. By incorporating mutational heterogeneity into the analyses, MutSigCV is able to eliminate most of the apparent artefactual findings and allow true cancer genes to rise to attention.
Cancer can take hundreds of different forms depending on the location, cell of origin and spectrum of genomic alterations that promote oncogenesis and affect therapeutic response. Although many genomic events with direct phenotypic impact have been identified, much of the complex molecular landscape remains incompletely charted for most cancer lineages. For that reason, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network has profiled and analyzed large numbers of human tumours to discover molecular aberrations at the DNA, RNA, protein, and epigenetic levels. The resulting rich data provide a major opportunity to develop an integrated picture of commonalities, differences, and emergent themes across tumour lineages. The Pan-Cancer initiative compares the first twelve tumour types profiled by TCGA. Analysis of the molecular aberrations and their functional roles across tumour types will teach us how to extend therapies effective in one cancer type to others with a similar genomic profile.
Human cancer cells typically harbor multiple chromosomal aberrations, nucleotide substitutions and epigenetic modifications that drive malignant transformation. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pilot project aims to assess the value of large-scale multidimensional analysis of these molecular characteristics in human cancer and to provide the data rapidly to the research community. Here, we report the interim integrative analysis of DNA copy number, gene expression and DNA methylation aberrations in 206 glioblastomas (GBM), the most common type of adult brain cancer, and nucleotide sequence aberrations in 91 of the 206 GBMs. This analysis provides new insights into the roles of ERBB2, NF1 and TP53, uncovers frequent mutations of the PI3 kinase regulatory subunit gene PIK3R1, and provides a network view of the pathways altered in the development of GBM. Furthermore, integration of mutation, DNA methylation and clinical treatment data reveals a link between MGMT promoter methylation and a hypermutator phenotype consequent to mismatch repair deficiency in treated glioblastomas, an observation with potential clinical implications. Together, these findings establish the feasibility and power of TCGA, demonstrating that it can rapidly expand knowledge of the molecular basis of cancer.
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