New publication!

Our new article has been accepted in CSBJ:

Müller P, Velazquez Camacho O, Yazbeck AM, Wölwer C, Zhai W, Schumacher J, Heider D, Buettner R, Quaas A, Hillmer AM: Why loss of Y? A pan-cancer genome analysis of tumors with loss of Y chromosome. Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 2023, 21:1573-1583. (Link)


Loss of the Y chromosome (LoY) is frequently observed in somatic cells of elderly men. However, LoY is highly increased in tumor tissue and correlates with an overall worse prognosis. The underlying causes and downstream effects of LoY are widely unknown. Therefore, we analyzed genomic and transcriptomic data of 13 cancer types (2375 patients) and classified tumors of male patients according to loss or retain of the Y chromosome (LoY or RoY, average LoY fraction: 0.46). The frequencies of LoY ranged from almost absence (glioblastoma, glioma, thyroid carcinoma) to 77% (kidney renal papillary cell carcinoma). Genomic instability, aneuploidy, and mutation burden were enriched in LoY tumors. In addition, we found more frequently in LoY tumors the gate keeping tumor suppressor gene TP53 mutated in three cancer types (colon adenocarcinoma, head and neck squamous carcinoma, lung adenocarcinoma) and oncogenes MET, CDK6, KRAS, and EGFR amplified in multiple cancer types. On the transcriptomic level, we observed MMP13, known to be involved in invasion, to be up-regulated in LoY of three adenocarcinomas and down-regulation of the tumor suppressor gene GPC5 in LoY of three cancer types. Furthermore, we found enrichment of a smoking-related mutation signature in LoY tumors of head and neck and lung cancer. Strikingly, we observed a correlation between cancer type-specific sex bias in incidence rates and frequencies of LoY, in line with the hypothesis that LoY increases cancer risk in males. Overall, LoY is a frequent phenomenon in cancer that is enriched in genomically unstable tumors. It correlates with genomic features beyond the Y chromosome and might contribute to higher incidence rates in males.

Written by: Dominik Heider