Big bang tumor growth and clonal evolution

Ruping Sun, Zheng Hu, Christina Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The advent and application of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies to tumor genomes has reinvigorated efforts to understand clonal evolution. Although tumor progression has traditionally been viewed as a gradual stepwise process, recent studies suggest that evolutionary rates in tumors can be variable with periods of punctuated mutational bursts and relative stasis. For example, Big Bang dynamics have been reported, wherein after transformation, growth occurs in the absence of stringent selection, consistent with effectively neutral evolution. Although first noted in colorectal tumors, effective neutrality may be relatively common. Additionally, punctuated evolution resulting from mutational bursts and cataclysmic genomic alterations have been described. In this review, we contrast these findings with the conventional gradualist view of clonal evolution and describe potential clinical and therapeutic implications of different evolutionary modes and tempos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera028381
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R01CA182514), Susan G. Komen Foundation (IIR13260750), and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF-16-032) to C.C. Z.H. is supported by an Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; all rights reserved.


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