Mutations provide resources for genome evolution by generating genetic variability. In addition, mutations act as a driving force leading to disease pathogenesis, and thus have important implications for disease diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Understanding the mechanisms underlying how mutations occur is therefore of prime importance for elucidating evolutionary and pathogenic processes. Recent genomics studies have revealed that mutations occur non-randomly across the human genome. In particular, the distribution of mutations is highly associated with intrinsic molecular processes including transcription, chromatin organization, DNA replication timing, and DNA repair. Interplay between intrinsic processes and extrinsic mutagenic exposure may thus imprint a characteristic mutational landscape on tumors. We discuss the impact of intrinsic molecular processes on mutation acquisition in cancer.
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