Broad and deep tumour genome sequencing has shed new light on tumour heterogeneity and provided important insights into the evolution of metastases arising from different clones1,2. There is an additional layer of complexity, in that tumour evolution may be influenced by selective pressure provided by therapy, in a similar fashion to that occurring in infectious diseases. Here we studied tumour genomic evolution in a patient (index patient) with metastatic breast cancer bearing an activating PIK3CA (phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha, PI(3)Kα) mutation. The patient was treated with the PI(3)Kα inhibitor BYL719, which achieved a lasting clinical response, but the patient eventually became resistant to this drug (emergence of lung metastases) and died shortly thereafter. A rapid autopsy was performed and material from a total of 14 metastatic sites was collected and sequenced. All metastatic lesions, when compared to the pre-treatment tumour, had a copy loss of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) and those lesions that became refractory to BYL719 had additional and different PTEN genetic alterations, resulting in the loss of PTEN expression. To put these results in context, we examined six other patients also treated with BYL719. Acquired bi-allelic loss of PTEN was found in one of these patients, whereas in two others PIK3CA mutations present in the primary tumour were no longer detected at the time of progression. To characterize our findings functionally, we examined the effects of PTEN knockdown in several preclinical models (both in cell lines intrinsically sensitive to BYL719 and in PTEN-null xenografts derived from our index patient), which we found resulted in resistance to BYL719, whereas simultaneous PI(3)K p110β blockade reverted this resistance phenotype. We conclude that parallel genetic evolution of separate metastatic sites with different PTEN genomic alterations leads to a convergent PTEN-null phenotype resistant to PI(3)Kα inhibition.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
DNA sequences have been deposited in the European Genome-phenome Archive with accession number EGAS00001000991.
We thank members of the MSKCC Diagnostic Molecular Pathology Laboratory and the MSK Maria-Josée and Henry Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology for assistance with sequencing. We thank M. Asher and U. Bhanot from the MSKCC Pathology Core for assistance with tissue staining. This work was funded by a “Stand Up to Cancer” Dream Team Translational Research Grant, a Program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (SU2C-AACR-DT0209), the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center, the Starr Cancer Consortium and an MMHCC grant (CA105388). D.J. is also funded by a National Institutes of Health Training Grant (T32 CA-71345-15) and by philanthropic support from Stephen and Kathleen Chubb.
Extended data figures
Extended data tables
This file contains a Supplementary Table.
About this article
Nature Reviews Cancer (2018)