Estimating the predictive power of silent mutations on cancer classification and prognosis

Tal Gutman, Guy Goren, Omri Efroni, Tamir Tuller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years it has been shown that silent mutations, in and out of the coding region, can affect gene expression and may be related to tumorigenesis and cancer cell fitness. However, the predictive ability of these mutations for cancer type diagnosis and prognosis has not been evaluated yet. In the current study, based on the analysis of 9,915 cancer genomes and approximately three million mutations, we provide a comprehensive quantitative evaluation of the predictive power of various types of silent and non-silent mutations over cancer classification and prognosis. The results indicate that silent-mutation models outperform the equivalent null models in classifying all examined cancer types and in estimating the probability of survival 10 years after the initial diagnosis. Additionally, combining both non-silent and silent mutations achieved the best classification results for 68% of the cancer types and the best survival estimation results for up to nine years after the diagnosis. Thus, silent mutations hold considerable predictive power over both cancer classification and prognosis, most likely due to their effect on gene expression. It is highly advised that silent mutations are integrated in cancer research in order to unravel the full genomic landscape of cancer and its ramifications on cancer fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
Journalnpj Genomic Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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