A coalescent analysis for modeling the mutation process in colorectal cancer

Hui Zhao, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Colorectal cancer is the forth most common diagnosed cancer in the United States. Every year about a hundred forty-seven thousand people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and fifty-six thousand people lose their lives due to this disease. Most of the hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and 12% of the sporadic colorectal cancer show microsatellite instability. Colorectal cancer is a multistep progressive disease. It starts from a mutation in a normal colorectal cell and grows into a clone of cells that further accumulates mutations and finally develops into a malignant tumor. In terms of molecular evolution, the process of colorectal tumor progression represents the acquisition of sequential mutations. Clinical studies use biomarkers such as microsatellite or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to study mutation frequencies in colorectal cancer. Microsatellite data obtained from single genome equivalent PCR or small pool PCR can be used to infer tumor progression. Since tumor progression is similar to population evolution, we used an approach known as coalescent, which is well established in population genetics, to analyze this type of data. Coalescent theory has been known to infer the sample's evolutionary path through the analysis of microsatellite data. The simulation results indicate that the constant population size pattern and the rapid tumor growth pattern have different genetic polymorphic patterns. The simulation results were compared with experimental data collected from HNPCC patients. The preliminary result shows the mutation rate in 6 HNPCC patients range from 0.001 to 0.01. The patients' polymorphic patterns are similar to the constant population size pattern which implies the tumor progression is through multilineage persistence instead of clonal sequential evolution. The results should be further verified using a larger dataset.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Zhao, Hui, "A coalescent analysis for modeling the mutation process in colorectal cancer" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3290041.