Hepatocellular carcinoma, one of the most common virus-associated cancers, is the third most frequent cause of cancer-related death worldwide. By massively parallel sequencing of a primary hepatitis C virus-"positive hepatocellular carcinoma (36× coverage) and matched lymphocytes (>28× coverage) from the same individual, we identified more than 11,000 somatic substitutions of the tumor genome that showed predominance of T>C/A>G transition and a decrease of the T>C substitution on the transcribed strand, suggesting preferential DNA repair. Gene annotation enrichment analysis of 63 validated non-synonymous substitutions revealed enrichment of phosphoproteins. We further validated 22 chromosomal rearrangements, generating four fusion transcripts that had altered transcriptional regulation (BCORL1-ELF4) or promoter activity. Whole-exome sequencing at a higher sequence depth (>76× coverage) revealed a TSC1 nonsense substitution in a subpopulation of the tumor cells. This first high-resolution characterization of a virus-associated cancer genome identified previously uncharacterized mutation patterns, intra-chromosomal rearrangements and fusion genes, as well as genetic heterogeneity within the tumor.
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