APOBEC-Induced Cancer Mutations Are Uniquely Enriched in Early-Replicating, Gene-Dense, and Active Chromatin Regions

Marat D. Kazanov, Steven A. Roberts, Paz Polak, John Stamatoyannopoulos, Leszek J. Klimczak, Dmitry A. Gordenin, Shamil R. Sunyaev

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55 Citations (Scopus)


An antiviral component of the human innate immune system-the APOBEC cytidine deaminases-was recently identified as a prominent source of mutations in cancers. Here, we investigated the distribution of APOBEC-induced mutations across the genomes of 119 breast and 24 lung cancer samples. While the rate of most mutations is known to be elevated in late-replicating regions that are characterized by reduced chromatin accessibility and low gene density, we observed a marked enrichment of APOBEC mutations in early-replicating regions. This unusual mutagenesis profile may be associated with a higher propensity to form single-strand DNA substrates for APOBEC enzymes in early-replicating regions and should be accounted for in statistical analyses of cancer genome mutation catalogs aimed at understanding the mechanisms of carcinogenesis as well as highlighting genes that are significantly mutated in cancer. Kazanov et al. find that early-replicating, gene-dense, euchromatic regions in genomes of several cancer types have an elevated density of clustered and scattered APOBEC-induced mutations. This distribution should be taken into account in efforts to identify genes significantly mutated in cancer as well as in models of cancer mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1109
Number of pages7
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


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