Parsimonious Clone Tree Integration in cancer

Palash Sashittal, Simone Zaccaria, Mohammed El-Kebir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Every tumor is composed of heterogeneous clones, each corresponding to a distinct subpopulation of cells that accumulated different types of somatic mutations, ranging from single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) to copy-number aberrations (CNAs). As the analysis of this intra-tumor heterogeneity has important clinical applications, several computational methods have been introduced to identify clones from DNA sequencing data. However, due to technological and methodological limitations, current analyses are restricted to identifying tumor clones only based on either SNVs or CNAs, preventing a comprehensive characterization of a tumor’s clonal composition. Results: To overcome these challenges, we formulate the identification of clones in terms of both SNVs and CNAs as a integration problem while accounting for uncertainty in the input SNV and CNA proportions. We thus characterize the computational complexity of this problem and we introduce PACTION (PArsimonious Clone Tree integratION), an algorithm that solves the problem using a mixed integer linear programming formulation. On simulated data, we show that tumor clones can be identified reliably, especially when further taking into account the ancestral relationships that can be inferred from the input SNVs and CNAs. On 49 tumor samples from 10 prostate cancer patients, our integration approach provides a higher resolution view of tumor evolution than previous studies. Conclusion: PACTION is an accurate and fast method that reconstructs clonal architecture of cancer tumors by integrating SNV and CNA clones inferred using existing methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalAlgorithms for Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Constraint programming
  • Intra-tumor heterogeneity
  • Perfect phylogeny
  • Single-cell DNA sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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