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Journal Articles Evolution - International Journal of Organic Evolution Year : 2016

The guardians of inherited oncogenic vulnerabilities

Beata Ujvari
Eric Solary
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  • PersonId : 839801
Pascal Pujol
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  • PersonId : 840596


Similar to seemingly maladaptive genes in general, the persistence of inherited cancer‐causing mutant alleles in populations remains a challenging question for evolutionary biologists. In addition to traditional explanations such as senescence or antagonistic pleiotropy, here we put forward a new hypothesis to explain the retention of oncogenic mutations. We propose that although natural defenses evolve to prevent neoplasm formation and progression thus increasing organismal fitness, they also conceal the effects of cancer‐causing mutant alleles on fitness and concomitantly protect inherited ones from purging by purifying selection. We also argue for the importance of the ecological contexts experienced by individuals and/or species. These contexts determine the locally predominant fitness‐reducing risks, and hence can aid the prediction of how natural selection will influence cancer outcomes.

Dates and versions

hal-01239554 , version 1 (07-12-2015)



Audrey Arnal, Tazzio Tissot, Beata Ujvari, Leonard Nunney, Eric Solary, et al.. The guardians of inherited oncogenic vulnerabilities. Evolution - International Journal of Organic Evolution, 2016, 70 (1), pp.1-6. ⟨10.1111/evo.12809⟩. ⟨hal-01239554⟩
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