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Advanced colorectal cancer harbors extensive intratumor heterogeneity shaped by neutral evolution; however, intratumor heterogeneity in colorectal precancerous lesions has been poorly studied. We perform multiregion whole-exome sequencing on ten early colorectal tumors, which contained adenoma and carcinoma in situ. By comparing with sequencing data from advanced colorectal tumors, we show that the early tumors accumulate a higher proportion of subclonal driver mutations than the advanced tumors, which is highlighted by subclonal mutations in KRAS and APC. We also demonstrate that variant allele frequencies of subclonal mutations tend to be higher in early tumors, suggesting that the subclonal mutations are subject to selective sweep in early tumorigenesis while neutral evolution is dominant in advanced ones. This study establishes that the evolutionary principle underlying intratumor heterogeneity shifts from Darwinian to neutral evolution during colorectal tumor progression.


  • Nature Communications

    Nature Communications (9), 2018-07-23

    Springer Nature


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