Human tumors result from an evolutionary process operating on somatic cells within tissues, whereby natural selection operates on the phenotypic variability generated by the accumulation of genetic, genomic and epigenetic alterations. This somatic evolution leads to adaptations such as increased proliferative, angiogenic, and invasive phenotypes. In this review we outline how cancer genomes are beginning to be investigated from an evolutionary perspective. We describe recent progress in the cataloging of somatic genetic and genomic alterations, and investigate the contributions of germline as well as epigenetic factors to cancer genome evolution. Finally, we outline the challenges facing researchers who investigate the processes driving the evolution of the cancer genome.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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Franziska Michor uses the tools of theoretical evolutionary biology, applied mathematics, statistics, and computational biology to address important questions in cancer research.

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