Clonal approaches to understanding the impact of mutations on hematologic disease development

Jyoti Nangalia, Emily Mitchell and Anthony R. Green


Interrogation of hematopoietic tissue at the clonal level has a rich history spanning over 50 years, and has provided critical insights into both normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Characterization of chromosomes identified some of the first genetic links to cancer with the discovery of chromosomal translocations in association with many hematological neoplasms. The unique accessibility of hematopoietic tissue and the ability to clonally expand hematopoietic progenitors in vitro has provided fundamental insights into the cellular hierarchy of normal hematopoiesis, as well as the functional impact of driver mutations in disease. Transplantation assays in murine models have enabled cellular assessment of the functional consequences of somatic mutations in vivo. Most recently, next-generation sequencing based assays have shown great promise in allowing multi 'omic' characterisation of single cells. Here we review how clonal approaches have advanced our understanding of disease development, focussing on the acquisition of somatic mutations, clonal selection, driver mutation cooperation and tumor evolution.

  • Submitted November 8, 2018.
  • Accepted January 15, 2019.