Somatic selection distinguishes oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes

Pramod Chandrashekar, Navid Ahmadinejad, Junwen Wang, Aleksandar Sekulic, Jan B. Egan, Yan W. Asmann, Sudhir Kumar, Carlo Maley, Li Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Motivation: Functions of cancer driver genes vary substantially across tissues and organs. Distinguishing passenger genes, oncogenes (OGs) and tumor-suppressor genes (TSGs) for each cancer type is critical for understanding tumor biology and identifying clinically actionable targets. Although many computational tools are available to predict putative cancer driver genes, resources for context-aware classifications of OGs and TSGs are limited. Results: We show that the direction and magnitude of somatic selection of protein-coding mutations are significantly different for passenger genes, OGs and TSGs. Based on these patterns, we develop a new method (genes under selection in tumors) to discover OGs and TSGs in a cancer-type specific manner. Genes under selection in tumors shows a high accuracy (92%) when evaluated via strict cross-validations. Its application to 10 172 tumor exomes found known and novel cancer drivers with high tissue-specificities. In 11 out of 13 OGs shared among multiple cancer types, we found functional domains selectively engaged in different cancers, suggesting differences in disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1712-1717
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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