Article

KRAS mutations are negatively correlated with immunity in colon cancer

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Abstract

The heterogeneity of colon cancer tumors suggests that therapeutics targeting specific molecules may be effective in only a few patients. It is therefore necessary to explore gene mutations in colon cancer. In this study, we obtained colon cancer samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas, and the International Cancer Genome Consortium. We evaluated the landscape of somatic mutations in colon cancer and found that KRAS mutations, particularly rs121913529, were frequent and had prognostic value. Using ESTIMATE analysis, we observed that the KRAS-mutated group had higher tumor purity, lower immune score, and lower stromal score than the wild-type group. Through single-sample Gene Set Enrichment Analysis and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis, we found that KRAS mutations negatively correlated with enrichment levels of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, inflammation, and cytolytic activities. HLA gene expression and checkpoint-related genes were also lower in the KRAS-mutated group. Finally, we found 24 immune-related genes that differed in expression between the KRAS-mutated and wild-type samples, which may provide clues to the mechanism of KRAS-related immune alteration. Our findings are indicative of the prognostic and predictive value of KRAS and illustrate the relationship between KRAS mutations and immune activity in colon cancer.

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... Colorectal cancer was, in 2020, the third most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both sexes worldwide [15]. KRAS mutations are present in about 52% of colorectal cancer cases and are in the top 5 of mutated genes in 2 different databases, namely, the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), along with APC, TP53, and TIN [1,[23][24][25][26]. Oncogene KRAS activating mutations KRAS G13D , KRAS G12D , and KRAS G12V are the most frequent mutations in colorectal cancer, with the codon 12 being the most affected [8,12,25,[27][28][29]. ...
... Epidemiological and clinical studies have shown a strong relationship between lung cancer, inflammatory microenvironment, and chronic infection [39], as well as between colorectal cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases [24]. In pancreatic cancer, an extensive stromal remodeling, with inflammatory cells and fibrotic scars, is also a hallmark of this type of cancer. ...
... KRAS mutations have been tightly associated with modulation of tumor inflammation, which has been gradually recognized as a key contributor for tumorigenesis by affecting the immune response, as well as the efficacy of treatments [1,40]. Therefore, exploring how cancer cells harboring oncogenic KRAS mutations may instigate the inflammatory TME, leading to chronic inflammation and stroma remodeling, is of extreme relevance [16,24,41]. ...
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KRAS mutations are one of the most frequent oncogenic mutations of all human cancers, being more prevalent in pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers. Intensive efforts have been encouraged in order to understand the effect of KRAS mutations, not only on tumor cells but also on the dynamic network composed by the tumor microenvironment (TME). The relevance of the TME in cancer biology has been increasing due to its impact on the modulation of cancer cell activities, which can dictate the success of tumor progression. Here, we aimed to clarify the pro- and anti-inflammatory role of KRAS mutations over the TME, detailing the context and the signaling pathways involved. In this review, we expect to open new avenues for investigating the potential of KRAS mutations on inflammatory TME modulation, opening a different vision of therapeutic combined approaches to overcome KRAS-associated therapy inefficacy and resistance in cancer.
... Tumorigenesis, invasion and metastasis are promoted through extended proliferation via the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK signaling pathway [15]. Also, immune reactions to cancer cells seem to be different in KRAS-mutated CRC patients [16]. ...
... Tumorigenesis, invasion and metastasis are promoted through extended proliferation via the Ras-Raf -MEK-ERK signaling pathway [15]. Also, immune reactions to cancer cells seem to be different in KRAS-mutated CRC patients [16]. ...
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Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a major public health issue. The detection of parameters that affect CRC prognosis is of great significance. KRAS mutations, play a crucial role in tumorigenesis with a strong predictive value. KRAS-mutated stage-IV CRC patients gain no benefit of the anti-EGFR therapy. The KRAS G12C mutation subtype is under investigation for treatment regimens. The present study aimed to detect various RAS mutations in a cohort of 578 RAS-mutated CRC patients; 49% of them had de novo metastatic disease; 60% were male; 71.4% had left-sided tumors; and 94.6% had a good performance status. KRAS mutations were detected in 93.2% of patients, with KRAS G12D being the most common subtype (30.1%). KRAS mutations presented shorter progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS), compared with NRAS mutations, although not significantly (PFS: 13.8 vs. 18.5 months; p = 0.552; OS: 53.1 vs. 60.9 months; p = 0.249). KRAS G12D mutations presented better OS rates (p = 0.04). KRAS G12C mutation, even though not significantly, presented worse PFS and OS rates. KRAS exon 3 and 4 mutations presented different PFS and OS rates, although these were not significant. Concluding, KRAS G12D and G12C mutations lead to better and worst prognosis, respectively. Further studies are warranted to validate such findings and their possible therapeutic implication.
... Moreover, some scholars have suggested that TTN and TP53 double mutations may take part in tumorigenesis by influencing downstream pathways through the participation of other co-expressed genes on the signaling network (39,40). Similarly, when KRAS is mutated, the downstream signaling pathway (mitogenactivated protein kinase, MAPK) is activated, leading to cell proliferation and tumor progression (41,42). ...
Article
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... Thus, the use of strategies that enhance the penetration of T cells, especially CD45RO+ T memory cells, into pMMR tumors with lower mutation loads may be effective [87,88]. Mutated proteins in pMMR that function against T-cell responses have to be identified (e.g., mutated KRAS or p53) [89]. So, the presence of more immune inhibitory cells such as Tregs and myeloid suppressor cells in pMMR tumors could explain the weak immune response to pMMR CRC [90,91]. ...
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The proto-oncogene KRAS is mutated in a wide array of human cancers, most of which are aggressive and respond poorly to standard therapies. Although the identification of specific oncogenes has led to the development of clinically effective, molecularly targeted therapies in some cases, KRAS has remained refractory to this approach. A complementary strategy for targeting KRAS is to identify gene products that, when inhibited, result in cell death only in the presence of an oncogenic allele. Here we have used systematic RNA interference to detect synthetic lethal partners of oncogenic KRAS and found that the non-canonical IkappaB kinase TBK1 was selectively essential in cells that contain mutant KRAS. Suppression of TBK1 induced apoptosis specifically in human cancer cell lines that depend on oncogenic KRAS expression. In these cells, TBK1 activated NF-kappaB anti-apoptotic signals involving c-Rel and BCL-XL (also known as BCL2L1) that were essential for survival, providing mechanistic insights into this synthetic lethal interaction. These observations indicate that TBK1 and NF-kappaB signalling are essential in KRAS mutant tumours, and establish a general approach for the rational identification of co-dependent pathways in cancer.
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RAS proteins are binary switches, cycling between ON and OFF states during signal transduction. These switches are normally tightly controlled, but in RAS-related diseases, such as cancer, RASopathies, and many psychiatric disorders, mutations in the RAS genes or their regulators render RAS proteins persistently active. The structural basis of the switch and many of the pathways that RAS controls are well known, but the precise mechanisms by which RAS proteins function are less clear. All RAS biology occurs in membranes: a precise understanding of RAS’ interaction with membranes is essential to understand RAS action and to intervene in RAS-driven diseases.
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In recent years, the high heterogeneity of colorectal cancer (CRC) has become evident. Hence, biomarkers need to be developed that enable the stratification of patients with CRC into different prognostic subgroups and in relation to response to therapies, according to the distinctive tumour biology. Currently, only RAS-mutation status is used routinely as a negative predictive marker to avoid treatment with anti-EGFR agents in patients with metastatic CRC, and mismatch-repair status can guide the use of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with early stage colon cancer. Advances in molecular biology over the past decade have enabled a better understanding of the development of CRC, as well as the more-precise use of innovative targeted therapies for this disease, and include three fundamental achievements. First, the availability of large databases to capture and store the genomic landscape of patients with CRC, providing information on the genes that are frequently deregulated in CRC. Second, the possibility of using gene-expression profiling to differentiate the subtypes of CRC into prognostic groups. Third, results from highly sensitive next-generation sequencing analyses have led to an appreciation of the extensive intratumoural heterogeneity of CRC. Herein, we discuss these advances and place them into the clinical context, and present the novel targets and therapeutic opportunities that are on the horizon.
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Dysfunctional intratumoral immune reactions are shaped by complex networks of cytokines (including chemokines), and how the cytokinome landscape coordinates with tumors has not been systematically investigated. Using high-dimensional datasets of cancer specimens, we explored the transcript abundance, biomarker potential, and prognostic impact of local cytokines across 19 tumor types. We found that most cytokines are highly locally dysregulated (p = 0.024), revealing spatiotemporal pattern of local cytokines in the development of cancers. In addition, we noted the significant downregulation of CCL14 and CXCL12 in 9 and 10 cancer types, respectively, implying their crucial roles in tumor pathogenesis. We also found that cytokines showed significantly higher specificity properties compared to other protein-coding genes (PCGs) in primary tumor specimens (p << 0.001), indicating that tissue context remains an issue when considering cancer cytokinomes. Finally, we linked concentrations of local cytokines to patient survival. Our results thus provide a panoramic view of pan-cancer cytokinomes, which highlights tumor type specificity of cancer-related cytokines and their impacts on disease prognosis.
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Mutationally activated RAS proteins are critical oncogenic drivers in nearly 30% of all human cancers. As with mutant RAS, the role of wild type RAS proteins in oncogenesis, tumour maintenance and metastasis is context-dependent. Complexity is introduced by the existence of multiple RAS genes (HRAS, KRAS, NRAS) and protein "isoforms" (KRAS4A, KRAS4B), by the ever more complicated network of RAS signaling, and by the increasing identification of numerous genetic aberrations in cancers that do and do not harbour mutant RAS. Numerous mouse model carcinogenesis studies and examination of patient tumours reveal that, in RAS-mutant cancers, wild type RAS proteins are likely to serve as tumour suppressors when the mutant RAS is of the same isoform. This evidence is particularly robust in KRAS mutant cancers, which often display suppression or loss of wild type KRAS, but is not as strong for NRAS. In contrast, although not yet fully elucidated, the preponderance of evidence indicates that wild type RAS proteins play a tumour promoting role when the mutant RAS is of a different isoform. In non-RAS mutant cancers, wild type RAS is recognized as a mediator of oncogenic signaling due to chronic activation of upstream receptor tyrosine kinases that feed through RAS. Additionally, in the absence of mutant RAS, activation of wild type RAS may drive cancer upon the loss of negative RAS regulators such as NF1 GAP or SPRY proteins. Here we explore the current state of knowledge with respect to the roles of wild type RAS proteins in human cancers.
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Purpose of review: Here, we focus on molecular biomarkers derived from transcriptomic studies to summarize the recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms associated with differential prognosis and treatment outcome in breast cancer. Recent findings: Breast cancer is certainly immunogenic; yet it has been historically resistant to immunotherapy. In the past few years, refined immunotherapeutic manipulations have been shown to be effective in a significant proportion of cancer patients. For example, drugs targeting the PD-1 immune checkpoint have been proven to be an effective therapeutic approach in several solid tumors including melanoma and lung cancer. Very recently, the activity of such therapeutics has also been demonstrated in breast cancer patients. Pari passu with the development of novel immune modulators, the transcriptomic analysis of human tumors unveiled unexpected and paradoxical relationships between cancer cells and immune cells. Summary: This review examines our understanding of the molecular pathways associated with intratumoral immune response, which represents a critical step for the implementation of stratification strategies toward the development of personalized immunotherapy of breast cancer.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0.
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Background: Nivolumab, a fully human IgG4 programmed death 1 (PD-1) immune-checkpoint-inhibitor antibody, disrupts PD-1-mediated signaling and may restore antitumor immunity. Methods: In this randomized, open-label, international phase 3 study, we assigned patients with nonsquamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had progressed during or after platinum-based doublet chemotherapy to receive nivolumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 weeks or docetaxel at a dose of 75 mg per square meter of body-surface area every 3 weeks. The primary end point was overall survival. Results: Overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. The median overall survival was 12.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.7 to 15.0) among 292 patients in the nivolumab group and 9.4 months (95% CI, 8.1 to 10.7) among 290 patients in the docetaxel group (hazard ratio for death, 0.73; 96% CI, 0.59 to 0.89; P=0.002). At 1 year, the overall survival rate was 51% (95% CI, 45 to 56) with nivolumab versus 39% (95% CI, 33 to 45) with docetaxel. With additional follow-up, the overall survival rate at 18 months was 39% (95% CI, 34 to 45) with nivolumab versus 23% (95% CI, 19 to 28) with docetaxel. The response rate was 19% with nivolumab versus 12% with docetaxel (P=0.02). Although progression-free survival did not favor nivolumab over docetaxel (median, 2.3 months and 4.2 months, respectively), the rate of progression-free survival at 1 year was higher with nivolumab than with docetaxel (19% and 8%, respectively). Nivolumab was associated with even greater efficacy than docetaxel across all end points in subgroups defined according to prespecified levels of tumor-membrane expression (≥1%, ≥5%, and ≥10%) of the PD-1 ligand. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 were reported in 10% of the patients in the nivolumab group, as compared with 54% of those in the docetaxel group. Conclusions: Among patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC that had progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy, overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 057 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01673867.).
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Failure of T cells to protect against cancer is thought to result from lack of antigen recognition, chronic activation, and/or suppression by other cells. Using a mouse sarcoma model, we show that glucose consumption by tumors metabolically restricts T cells, leading to their dampened mTOR activity, glycolytic capacity, and IFN-γ production, thereby allowing tumor progression. We show that enhancing glycolysis in an antigenic "regressor" tumor is sufficient to override the protective ability of T cells to control tumor growth. We also show that checkpoint blockade antibodies against CTLA-4, PD-1, and PD-L1, which are used clinically, restore glucose in tumor microenvironment, permitting T cell glycolysis and IFN-γ production. Furthermore, we found that blocking PD-L1 directly on tumors dampens glycolysis by inhibiting mTOR activity and decreasing expression of glycolysis enzymes, reflecting a role for PD-L1 in tumor glucose utilization. Our results establish that tumor-imposed metabolic restrictions can mediate T cell hyporesponsiveness during cancer.
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How the genomic landscape of a tumor shapes and is shaped by anti-tumor immunity has not been systematically explored. Using large-scale genomic data sets of solid tissue tumor biopsies, we quantified the cytolytic activity of the local immune infiltrate and identified associated properties across 18 tumor types. The number of predicted MHC Class I-associated neoantigens was correlated with cytolytic activity and was lower than expected in colorectal and other tumors, suggesting immune-mediated elimination. We identified recurrently mutated genes that showed positive association with cytolytic activity, including beta-2-microglobulin (B2M), HLA-A, -B and -C and Caspase 8 (CASP8), highlighting loss of antigen presentation and blockade of extrinsic apoptosis as key strategies of resistance to cytolytic activity. Genetic amplifications were also associated with high cytolytic activity, including immunosuppressive factors such as PDL1/2 and ALOX12B/15B. Our genetic findings thus provide evidence for immunoediting in tumors and uncover mechanisms of tumor-intrinsic resistance to cytolytic activity. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Dysfunctional T cells can render the immune system unable to eliminate infections and cancer. Therapeutic targeting of the surface receptors that inhibit T cell function has begun to show remarkable success in clinical trials. In this Review, we discuss the potential mechanisms of action of the clinical agents that target two of these receptors, programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) and lymphocyte activation gene 3 protein (LAG3). We also suggest correlative studies that may define the predominant mechanisms of action and identify predictive biomarkers.
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Most tumor cells express antigens that can mediate recognition by host CD8(+) T cells. Cancers that are detected clinically must have evaded antitumor immune responses to grow progressively. Recent work has suggested two broad categories of tumor escape based on cellular and molecular characteristics of the tumor microenvironment. One major subset shows a T cell-inflamed phenotype consisting of infiltrating T cells, a broad chemokine profile and a type I interferon signature indicative of innate immune activation. These tumors appear to resist immune attack through the dominant inhibitory effects of immune system-suppressive pathways. The other major phenotype lacks this T cell-inflamed phenotype and appears to resist immune attack through immune system exclusion or ignorance. These two major phenotypes of tumor microenvironment may require distinct immunotherapeutic interventions for maximal therapeutic effect.
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Background: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer; however, its use does not lead to a marked clinical response. Studies of non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer showed that mutations of genes in the PIK3CA/AKT and RAS/RAF/MEK pathways, two major signalling cascades downstream of EGFR, might predict resistance to EGFR-targeted agents. Therefore, we examined the frequencies of mutations in these key EGFR pathway genes in Chinese breast cancer patients. Methods: We used a high-throughput mass-spectrometric based cancer gene mutation profiling platform to detect 22 mutations of the PIK3CA, AKT1, BRAF, EGFR, HRAS, and KRAS genes in 120 Chinese women with breast cancer. Results: Thirteen mutations were detected in 12 (10%) of the samples, all of which were invasive ductal carcinomas (two stage I, six stage II, three stage III, and one stage IV). These included one mutation (0.83%) in the EGFR gene (rs121913445-rs121913432), three (2.5%) in the KRAS gene (rs121913530, rs112445441), and nine (7.5%) in the PIK3CA gene (rs121913273, rs104886003, and rs121913279). No mutations were found in the AKT1, BRAF, and HRAS genes. Six (27.3%) of the 22 genotyping assays caused mutations in at least one sample and three (50%) of the six assays queried were found to be mutated more than once. Conclusions: Mutations in the EGFR pathway occurred in a small fraction of Chinese breast cancers. However, therapeutics targeting these potential predictive markers should be investigated in depth, especially in Oriental populations.
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Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Chronic inflammation is believed to promote carcinogenesis. The risk for colon cancer increases with the duration and anatomic extent of colitis and presence of other inflammatory disorders (such as primary sclerosing cholangitis), whereas it decreases when patients take drugs to reduce inflammation (such as mesalamine and steroids). The genetic features that lead to sporadic CRC-chromosome instability, microsatellite instability, and DNA hypermethylation-also occur in colitis-associated CRC. Unlike the normal colonic mucosa, cells of the inflamed colonic mucosa have these genetic alterations before there is any histologic evidence of dysplasia or cancer. The reasons for these differences are not known, but oxidative stress is likely to be involved. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced by inflammatory cells can affect regulation of genes that encode factors that prevent carcinogenesis (such as p53, DNA mismatch repair proteins, and DNA base excision-repair proteins), transcription factors (such as nuclear factor-κB), or signaling proteins (such as cyclooxygenases). Administration of agents that cause colitis in healthy rodents or genetically engineered, cancer-prone mice accelerates development of colorectal tumors. Mice genetically prone to inflammatory bowel disease also develop CRC, especially in the presence of bacterial colonization. Individual components of the innate and adaptive immune response have also been implicated in carcinogenesis. These observations offer compelling support for the role of inflammation in colon carcinogenesis.
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Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) encourage and coordinate neoplastic growth. In late stage human lung adenocarcinoma, TAMs exhibited mixed M1 (classical; argI(low)iNOS(high)) and M2 (alternative; argI(high)iNOS(low)) polarization based on arginine metabolism. In several murine cancer models including chemically and genetically-induced primary lung tumors, prostate tumors, colon xenografts, and lung metastases, TAMs expressed argI(high)iNOS(low) early during tumor formation; argI(low)iNOS(high) polarization also occurred during malignancy in some models. In a chemically-induced lung tumor model, macrophages expressed argI(high)iNOS(low) within one week after carcinogen treatment, followed by similar polarization of bone marrow-derived monocytes (BDMCs) a few days later. TAMs surrounding murine prostate tumors also expressed argI(high)iNOS(low) early during tumorigenesis, indicating that this polarization is not unique to neoplastic lungs. In a human colon cancer xenograft model, the primary tumor was surrounded by argI(high)iNOS(low)-expressing TAMs, and BDMCs also expressed argI(high)iNOS(low), but pulmonary macrophages adopted argI(high)iNOS(low) polarization only after tumors metastasized to the lungs. Persistence of tumors is required to maintain TAM polarization. Indeed, in both conditional mutant Kras- and FGF10-driven models of lung cancer, mice expressing the transgene develop lung tumors that regress rapidly when the transgene is silenced. Furthermore, pulmonary macrophages expressed argI(high)iNOS(low) on tumor induction, but then returned to argI(low) iNOS(low) (no polarization) after tumors regressed. Manipulating TAM function or depleting TAMs may provide novel therapeutic strategies for preventing and treating many types of cancer.
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The connection between inflammation and tumorigenesis is well-established and in the last decade has received a great deal of supporting evidence from genetic, pharmacological, and epidemiological data. Inflammatory bowel disease is an important risk factor for the development of colon cancer. Inflammation is also likely to be involved with other forms of sporadic as well as heritable colon cancer. The molecular mechanisms by which inflammation promotes cancer development are still being uncovered and could differ between colitis-associated and other forms of colorectal cancer. Recent work has elucidated the role of distinct immune cells, cytokines, and other immune mediators in virtually all steps of colon tumorigenesis, including initiation, promotion, progression, and metastasis. These mechanisms, as well as new approaches to prevention and therapy, are discussed in this review.
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Microsatellite instability (MSI) is a hypermutable phenotype caused by the loss of DNA mismatch repair activity. MSI is detected in about 15% of all colorectal cancers; 3% are of these are associated with Lynch syndrome and the other 12% are caused by sporadic, acquired hypermethylation of the promoter of the MLH1 gene, which occurs in tumors with the CpG island methylator phenotype. Colorectal tumors with MSI have distinctive features, including a tendency to arise in the proximal colon, lymphocytic infiltrate, and a poorly differentiated, mucinous or signet ring appearance. They have a slightly better prognosis than colorectal tumors without MSI and do not have the same response to chemotherapeutics. Discovery of MSI in colorectal tumors has increased awareness of the diversity of colorectal cancers and implications for specialized management of patients.
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Colon cancer is one of the leading tumours in the world and it is considered among the big killers, together with lung, prostate and breast cancer. In the recent years very important advances occurred in the field of treatment of this frequent disease: adjuvant chemotherapy was demonstrated to be effective, chiefly in stage III patients, and surgery was optimized in order to achieve the best results with a low morbidity. Several new target-oriented drugs are under evaluation and some of them (cetuximab and bevacizumab) have already exhibited a good activity/efficacy, mainly in combination with chemotherapy. The development of updated recommendations for the best management of these patients is crucial in order to obtain the best results, not only in clinical research but also in every-day practice. This report summarizes the most important achievements in this field and provides the readers useful suggestions for their professional practice.
Article
Introduction and Design The introduction of the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors (EGFR-I) has increased the treatment options available for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Two EGFR-I agents currently approved for the treatment of mCRC are the fully human monoclonal antibody panitumumab and the mouse-human chimeric monoclonal antibody cetuximab. While these agents have demonstrated activity across multiple lines of therapy, early studies suggested that clinical benefit was confined to a subset of patients treated. Mutation of the KRAS oncogene has emerged as a powerful negative predictive biomarker to identify patients with mCRC who do not benefit from EGFR-I therapy. Multiple retrospective analyses have demonstrated that clinical benefit from treatment with EGFR-I is limited to patients with tumors harboring the wild-type KRAS gene. In this review, the KRAS pathway and studies evaluating KRAS as a prognostic marker in CRC are discussed along with advances in KRAS gene mutation testing. Clinical trials evaluating the role of KRAS status in response to EGFR-I monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy are also highlighted along with ongoing studies evaluating the role of EGFR-I treatment on curative resections rates. Results and Conclusion Future studies investigating EGFR-I therapy in mCRC should incorporate KRAS mutation testing into the study protocol in order to more accurately determine the patient population that will obtain clinical benefit from these novel agents.
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Colon cancer closely follows the paradigm of a single "gatekeeper gene." Mutations inactivating the APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) gene are found in approximately 80% of all human colon tumors and heterozygosity for such mutations produces an autosomal dominant colon cancer predisposition in humans and in murine models. However, this tight association between a single genotype and phenotype belies a complex association of genetic and epigenetic factors that together generate the broad phenotypic spectrum ofboth familial and sporadic colon cancers. In this Chapter, we give a general overview of the structure, function and outstanding issues concerning the role of Apc in human and experimental colon cancer. The availability of increasingly close models for human colon cancer in genetically tractable animal species enables the discovery and eventual molecular identification of genetic modifiers of the Apc-mutant phenotypes, connecting the central role of Apc in colon carcinogenesis to the myriad factors that ultimately determine the course of the disease.