A major goal of cancer research is to understand how mutations distributed across diverse genes affect common cellular systems, including multiprotein complexes and assemblies. Two challenges-how to comprehensively map such systems and how to identify which are under mutational selection-have hindered this understanding. Accordingly, we created a comprehensive map of cancer protein systems integrating both new and published multi-omic interaction data at multiple scales of analysis. We then developed a unified statistical model that pinpoints 395 specific systems under mutational selection across 13 cancer types. This map, called NeST (Nested Systems in Tumors), incorporates canonical processes and notable discoveries, including a PIK3CA-actomyosin complex that inhibits phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling and recurrent mutations in collagen complexes that promote tumor proliferation. These systems can be used as clinical biomarkers and implicate a total of 548 genes in cancer evolution and progression. This work shows how disparate tumor mutations converge on protein assemblies at different scales.
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