Clinicopathological and protein characterization of BRAF- and K-RAS-mutated colorectal cancer and implications for prognosis

Int J Cancer. 2010 Jul 15;127(2):367-80. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25042.


Recent evidence highlights the potential prognostic and predictive value of BRAF and K-RAS gene alterations in patients with colorectal cancer. However, a comprehensive evaluation of BRAF and K-RAS mutations and their specific clinicopathological features, histomorphological presentation and effect on protein expression have not been systematically analyzed. The aim of this study was to characterize the clinicopathological, histomorphological and protein expression profiles of BRAF- and K-RAS-mutated colorectal cancers and determine their impact on patient survival. Molecular analysis for microsatellite instability (MSI), K-RAS and BRAF was carried out on paraffin-embedded samples from 404 patients with primary colorectal cancer. Using tissue microarrays, 36 tumor-associated and 14 lymphocyte/inflammatory-associated markers were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. BRAF mutation was associated with right-sided tumor location (p < 0.001), higher tumor grade (p = 0.029), absence of peritumoral lymphocytic inflammation (p = 0.026) and MSI-H (p < 0.001). In right-sided tumors, loss of CDX2 expression was observed in 23 of 24 cases (95.8%). BRAF mutation was a poor prognostic indicator in patients with right-sided disease (p = 0.01). This result was maintained in multivariable analysis (p < 0.001; HR = 2.82; 95% CI: 1.5-5.5) with pT, pN and vascular invasion and independent of CDX2 expression. K-RAS mutation, in contrast, was not associated with any of the features analyzed. BRAF gene mutation is an adverse prognostic factor in right-sided colon cancer patients independent of MSI status and, moreover, in patients with lymph node-negative disease. These results indicate that molecular analysis for BRAF may be a useful biomarker for identifying patients with right-sided colon cancer with poor outcome who may benefit from a more individualized course of therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • ras Proteins / genetics*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins