Longitudinal single-cell dynamics of chromatin accessibility and mitochondrial mutations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia mirror disease history


  • L. Penter
  • S.H. Gohil
  • C. Lareau
  • L.S. Ludwig
  • E.M. Parry
  • T. Huang
  • S. Li
  • W. Zhang
  • D. Livitz
  • I. Leshchiner
  • L. Parida
  • G. Getz
  • L.Z. Rassenti
  • T.J. Kipps
  • J.R. Brown
  • M.S. Davids
  • D.S. Neuberg
  • K.J. Livak
  • V.G. Sankaran
  • C.J. Wu


  • Cancer Discovery


  • Cancer Discov 11 (12): 3048-3063


  • While cancers evolve during disease progression and in response to therapy, temporal dynamics remain difficult to study in humans due to the lack of consistent barcodes marking individual clones in vivo. We employ mitochondrial single-cell assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing to profile 163,279 cells from 9 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) collected across disease course and utilize mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations as natural genetic markers of cancer clones. We observe stable propagation of mtDNA mutations over years in the absence of strong selective pressure indicating clonal persistence, but dramatic changes following tight bottlenecks including disease transformation and relapse post-therapy, paralleled by acquisition of copy number variants, changes in chromatin accessibility and gene expression. Furthermore, we link CLL subclones to distinct chromatin states, providing insight into non-genetic sources of relapse. mtDNA mutations thus mirror disease history and provide naturally-occurring genetic barcodes to enable patient-specific study of cancer subclonal dynamics.