A practical guide for mutational signature analysis in hematological malignancies

Francesco Maura, Andrea Degasperi, Ferran Nadeu, Daniel Leongamornlert, Helen Davies, Luiza Moore, Romina Royo, Bachisio Ziccheddu, Xose S. Puente, Herve Avet-Loiseau, Peter J. Cambell, Serena Nik-Zainal, Elias Campo, Nikhil Munshi, Niccolò Bolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of mutational signatures is becoming routine in cancer genomics, with implications for pathogenesis, classification, prognosis, and even treatment decisions. However, the field lacks a consensus on analysis and result interpretation. Using whole-genome sequencing of multiple myeloma (MM), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute myeloid leukemia, we compare the performance of public signature analysis tools. We describe caveats and pitfalls of de novo signature extraction and fitting approaches, reporting on common inaccuracies: erroneous signature assignment, identification of localized hyper-mutational processes, overcalling of signatures. We provide reproducible solutions to solve these issues and use orthogonal approaches to validate our results. We show how a comprehensive mutational signature analysis may provide relevant biological insights, reporting evidence of c-AID activity among unmutated CLL cases or the absence of BRCA1/BRCA2-mediated homologous recombination deficiency in a MM cohort. Finally, we propose a general analysis framework to ensure production of accurate and reproducible mutational signature data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2969
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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