Frequency and type of KRAS mutations in routine diagnostic analysis of metastatic colorectal cancer

Pathol Res Pract. 2009;205(12):858-62. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Aug 12.


Mutation analysis of the KRAS oncogene is now established as a predictive biomarker in colorectal cancer (CRC). Large prospective clinical trials have shown that only CRCs with wild-type KRAS respond to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) treatment. Therefore, mutation analysis is mandatory before treatment, and reliable benchmarks for the frequency and types of KRAS mutations have to be established for routinely testing large numbers of metastatic CRCs. A thousand and eighteen cases (879 primary tumors and 139 metastases) of metastatic colorectal cancer were analyzed for the KRAS mutational status of codons 12 and 13 of the KRAS gene by genomic sequencing in a routine setting. Results were analyzed separately for specimens derived from primary tumors and metastases. KRAS mutations in codons 12 and 13 were present in 39.3% of all analyzed CRCs. The most frequent types of mutations were glycine to aspartate on codon 12 (p.G12D, 36.0%), glycine to valine on codon 12 (pG12V, 21.8%), and glycine to aspartate on codon 13 (p.G13D, 18.8%). They account for 76.6% of all mutations and prevail in primary tumors and distant metastases, indicating a robustness of the KRAS mutational status during neoplastic dissemination. The frequency of KRAS mutations and the preponderance of three types of mutations in codons 12 and 13 in a large, unselected cohort of metastatic CRC confirm the previous data of small and selected CRC samples. Thus, a mutation frequency of 40% and a cluster of three mutation types (p.G12D, pG12V, and p.G13D) in primaries and metastases can be defined as benchmarks for routine KRAS analyses.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Codon
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / secondary
  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Patient Selection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Codon
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins