Background: Complex clusters of rearrangements are a challenge in interpretation of cancer genomes. Some clusters of rearrangements demarcate clear amplifications of driver oncogenes but others are less well understood. A detailed analysis of rearrangements within these complex clusters could reveal new insights into selection and underlying mutational mechanisms.
Patients and methods: Here, we systematically investigate rearrangements that are densely clustered in individual tumours in a cohort of 560 breast cancers. Applying an agnostic approach, we identify 21 hotspots where clustered rearrangements recur across cancers.
Results: Some hotspots coincide with known oncogene loci including CCND1, ERBB2, ZNF217, chr8:ZNF703/FGFR1, IGF1R, and MYC. Others contain cancer genes not typically associated with breast cancer: MCL1, PTP4A1, and MYB. Intriguingly, we identify clustered rearrangements that physically connect distant hotspots. In particular, we observe simultaneous amplification of chr8:ZNF703/FGFR1 and chr11:CCND1 where deep analysis reveals that a chr8-chr11 translocation is likely to be an early, critical, initiating event.
Conclusions: We present an overview of complex rearrangements in breast cancer, highlighting a potential new way for detecting drivers and revealing novel mechanistic insights into the formation of two common amplicons.
- breast cancer
- mutational mechanism