Characterisation of the changing genomic landscape of metastatic melanoma using cell free DNA.
Cutts A., Venn O., Dilthey A., Gupta A., Vavoulis D., Dreau H., Middleton M., McVean G., Taylor JC., Schuh A.
Cancer is characterised by complex somatically acquired genetic aberrations that manifest as intra-tumour and inter-tumour genetic heterogeneity and can lead to treatment resistance. In this case study, we characterise the genome-wide somatic mutation dynamics in a metastatic melanoma patient during therapy using low-input (50 ng) PCR-free whole genome sequencing of cell-free DNA from pre-treatment and post-relapse blood samples. We identify de novo tumour-specific somatic mutations from cell-free DNA, while the sequence context of single nucleotide variants showed the characteristic UV-damage mutation signature of melanoma. To investigate the behaviour of individual somatic mutations during proto-oncogene B-Raf -targeted and immune checkpoint inhibition, amplicon-based deep sequencing was used to verify and track frequencies of 212 single nucleotide variants at 10 distinct time points over 13 months of treatment. Under checkpoint inhibition therapy, we observed an increase in mutant allele frequencies indicating progression on therapy 88 days before clinical determination of non-response positron emission tomogrophy-computed tomography. We also revealed mutations from whole genome sequencing of cell-free DNA that were not present in the tissue biopsy, but that later contributed to relapse. Our findings have potential clinical applications where high quality tumour-tissue derived DNA is not available.