Centre for Biological Signalling Studies

A pan-cancer analysis of synonymous mutations

Sharma Y, Miladi M, Dukare S, Boulay K, Caudron-Herger M, Groß M, Backofen R, Diederichs S.

Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):2569.

Nat Commun.                online article

Synonymous mutations have been viewed as silent mutations, since they only affect the DNA and mRNA, but not the amino acid sequence of the resulting protein. Nonetheless, recent studies suggest their signi fi cant impact on splicing, RNA stability, RNA folding, translation or co-translational protein folding. Hence, we compile 659194 synonymous mutations found in human cancer and characterize their properties. We provide the user-friendly, comprehen- sive resource for synonymous mutations in cancer, SynMICdb (, which also contains orthogonal information about gene annotation, recurrence, mutation loads, cancer association, conservation, alternative events, impact on mRNA structure and a SynMICdb score. Notably, synonymous and missense mutations are depleted at the 5'-end of the coding sequence as well as at the ends of internal exons independent of mutational signatures. For patient-derived synonymous mutations in the oncogene KRAS , we indicate that single point mutations can have a relevant impact on expression as well as on mRNA secondary structure.