Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

PLoS Comput Biol


Algorithms; Chromosome Mapping; DNA Mutational Analysis; DNA, Neoplasm; Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic; Genes, Neoplasm; High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing; Humans; Multigene Family; Mutation; Neoplasms; Signal Transduction


Cancer researchers have long recognized that somatic mutations are not uniformly distributed within genes. However, most approaches for identifying cancer mutations focus on either the entire-gene or single amino-acid level. We have bridged these two methodologies with a multiscale mutation clustering algorithm that identifies variable length mutation clusters in cancer genes. We ran our algorithm on 539 genes using the combined mutation data in 23 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and identified 1295 mutation clusters. The resulting mutation clusters cover a wide range of scales and often overlap with many kinds of protein features including structured domains, phosphorylation sites, and known single nucleotide variants. We statistically associated these multiscale clusters with gene expression and drug response data to illuminate the functional and clinical consequences of mutations in our clusters. Interestingly, we find multiple clusters within individual genes that have differential functional associations: these include PTEN, FUBP1, and CDH1. This methodology has potential implications in identifying protein regions for drug targets, understanding the biological underpinnings of cancer, and personalizing cancer treatments. Toward this end, we have made the mutation clusters and the clustering algorithm available to the public. Clusters and pathway associations can be interactively browsed at The multiscale mutation clustering algorithm is available at

Clinical Institute





Institute for Systems Biology