A novel high-specificity approach for colorectal neoplasia: Detection of K-ras2 oncogene mutation in normal mucosa

Int J Cancer. 2005 Mar 1;113(6):1015-21. doi: 10.1002/ijc.20666.


There is an important need for a high-specificity approach to colorectal cancer. Approximately 50% of colorectal tumors contain K-ras gene mutations, which occur as an early step in carcinogenesis. K-ras mutations were detectable not only in tumors but also in microscopically normal colorectal mucosa close to carcinomas in some patients with colorectal cancer. This is the first systematic analysis of K-ras mutations in normal colonic mucosa at multiple consistently-selected locations. A total of 480 normal colonic mucosal samples were obtained from 80 subjects, including 65 patients with sporadic colorectal cancer and 15 controls in whom a colorectal neoplasm was ruled out endoscopically. Normal mucosal samples were obtained at multiple consistently-selected locations using biopsy forceps during colonoscopy. Mutant allele-specific amplification (MASA)-PCR was performed; this could detect a K-ras mutation in normal colonic mucosa even though it was only sparsely present. The K-ras mutation was found in histologically normal mucosa from colorectal cancer patients (20 of 65 cases; 41 of 390 loci) by MASA-PCR, especially frequent (51%; 19 of 37 cases) when the tumor showed a K-ras mutation. In contrast, no mutation was found in normal mucosa from 15 controls (90 loci). K-ras mutation in normal mucosa showed a significant association with the presence of colorectal cancer (p = 0.008). The specificity of the MASA-PCR method for colorectal neoplasms was thus 100%. We conclude that detection of K-ras mutations in normal colonic mucosa might serve as a high-specificity approach to colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colon / cytology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • DNA Primers
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Reference Values
  • ras Proteins


  • DNA Primers
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins