Whole genome analysis reveals the genomic complexity in metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Thind AS, Ashford B, Strbenac D, Mitchell J, Lee J, Mueller SA, Minaei E, Perry JR, Ch’ng S, Iyer NG, Clark JR, Gupta R, Ranson M. Front Oncol. 2022 Aug 2;12:919118. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2022.919118. PMID: 35982973; PMCID: PMC9379253.


Metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) is a highly morbid disease requiring radical surgery and adjuvant therapy, which is associated with a poor prognosis. Yet, compared to other advanced malignancies, relatively little is known of the genomic landscape of metastatic CSCC. We have previously reported the mutational signatures and mutational patterns of CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) regions in metastatic CSCC. However, many other genomic components (indel signatures, non-coding drivers, and structural variants) of metastatic CSCC have not been reported. To this end, we performed whole genome sequencing on lymph node metastases and blood DNA from 25 CSCC patients with regional metastases of the head and neck. We designed a multifaceted computational analysis at the whole genome level to provide a more comprehensive perspective of the genomic landscape of metastatic CSCC. In the non-coding genome, 3′ untranslated region (3’UTR) regions of EVC (48% of specimens), PPP1R1A (48% of specimens), and ABCA4 (20% of specimens) along with the tumor-suppressing long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) LINC01003 (64% of specimens) were significantly functionally altered (Q-value < 0.05) and represent potential non-coding biomarkers of CSCC. Recurrent copy number loss in the tumor suppressor gene PTPRD was observed. Gene amplification was much less frequent, and few genes were recurrently amplified. Single nucleotide variants driver analyses from three tools confirmed TP53 and CDKN2A as recurrently mutated genes but also identified C9 as a potential novel driver in this disease. Furthermore, indel signature analysis highlighted the dominance of ID signature 13 (ID13) followed by ID8 and ID9. ID9 has previously been shown to have no association with skin melanoma, unlike ID13 and ID8, suggesting a novel pattern of indel variation in metastatic CSCC. The enrichment analysis of various genetically altered candidates shows enrichment of “TGF-beta regulation of extracellular matrix” and “cell cycle G1 to S check points.” These enriched terms are associated with genetic instability, cell proliferation, and migration as mechanisms of genomic drivers of metastatic CSCC.