Research Papers:

Spatio-temporal tumor heterogeneity in metastatic CRC tumors: a mutational-based approach

Sofía del Carmen, José María Sayagués, Oscar Bengoechea, María Fernanda Anduaga, Jose Antonio Alcazar, Ruth Gervas, Jacinto García, Alberto Orfao, Luis Muñoz Bellvis, María Eugenia Sarasquete _ and María del Mar Abad

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:34279-34288. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26081

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Sofía del Carmen1,*, José María Sayagués2,*, Oscar Bengoechea1, María Fernanda Anduaga3, Jose Antonio Alcazar3, Ruth Gervas1, Jacinto García3, Alberto Orfao2,**, Luis Muñoz Bellvis3,**, María Eugenia Sarasquete4,** and María del Mar Abad1,**

1Department of Pathology and IBSAL, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

2Cytometry Service-NUCLEUS, Department of Medicine, Cancer Research Center (IBMCC-CSIC/USAL) and IBSAL, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

3General and Gastrointestinal Surgery Service and IBSAL, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

4Hematology Service, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

**These authors have contributed equally to this work and they should be considered as senior last authors and corresponding authors

Correspondence to:

María Eugenia Sarasquete, email: [email protected]

María del Mar Abad, email: [email protected]

Keywords: colorectal cancer; clonal evolution; anti-EGFR; mutational profile; tumor heterogeneity

Received: June 30, 2018     Accepted: August 10, 2018     Published: September 28, 2018


It is well known that activating mutations in the KRAS and NRAS genes are associated with poor response to anti-EGFR therapies in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Approximately half of the patients with wild-type (WT) KRAS colorectal carcinoma do not respond to these therapies. This could be because the treatment decision is determined by the mutational profile of the primary tumor, regardless of the presence of small tumor subclones harboring RAS mutations in lymph nodes or liver metastases. We analyzed the mutational profile of the KRAS, NRAS, BRAF and PI3KCA genes using low-density microarray technology in samples of 26 paired primary tumors, 16 lymph nodes and 34 liver metastases from 26 untreated mCRC patients (n=76 samples). The most frequent mutations found in primary tumors were KRAS (15%) and PI3KCA (15%), followed by NRAS (8%) and BRAF (4%). The distribution of the mutations in the 16 lymph node metastases analyzed was as follows: 4 (25%) in KRAS gene, 3 (19%) in NRAS gene and 1 mutation each in PI3KCA and BRAF genes (6%). As expected, the most prevalent mutation in liver metastasis was in the KRAS gene (35%), followed by PI3KCA (9%) and BRAF (6%). Of the 26 cases studied, 15 (58%) displayed an overall concordance in the mutation status detected in the lymph node metastases and liver metastases compared with primary tumor, suggesting no clonal evolution. In contrast, the mutation profiles differed in the primary tumor and lymph node/metastases samples of the remaining 11 patients (48%), suggesting a spatial and temporal clonal evolution. We confirm the presence of different mutational profiles among primary tumors, lymph node metastases and liver metastases. Our results suggest the need to perform mutational analysis in all available tumor samples of patients before deciding to commence anti-EGFR treatment.

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