Frequent mutations of KRAS in addition to BRAF in colorectal serrated adenocarcinoma

Histopathology. 2011 Apr;58(5):679-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03821.x. Epub 2011 Apr 4.


Aims: To define the occurrence of KRAS and BRAF mutations, microsatellite instability (MSI), and MGMT and hMLH1 methylation and expression in colorectal serrated adenocarcinoma.

Methods and results: KRAS codon 12/13 and 59/61 and BRAF V600E mutations, MSI, and MGMT and hMLH1 methylation and expression in 42 serrated adenocarcinomas and 17 serrated adenomas were compared with those in 59 non-serrated colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) and nine adenomas. KRAS and BRAF mutations were observed in 45% and 33% of serrated adenocarcinomas and in 27% and 0% of non-serrated CRCs (P < 0.001). The KRAS c12G→A transition was the predominant type of mutation in serrated adenocarcinomas. Forty-two per cent of BRAF-mutated serrated adenocarcinomas showed high-level MSI (MSI-H) (P = 0.075), 100% showed hMLH1 methylation (P = 0.001) and 90.9% showed MGMT methylation (P = 0.019). Fifty-six per cent of serrated adenocarcinomas with microsatellite stability/low-level microsatellite instability harboured KRAS mutations. In non-serrated cancers, KRAS mutations were not associated with MSI status.

Conclusions: A high combined mutation rate (79-82%) of KRAS and BRAF in serrated adenomas and adenocarcinomas indicates that mitogen-activated protein kinase activation is a crucial part of the serrated pathway. BRAF mutations are specific for serrated adenocarcinoma and identify a subset of serrated adenocarcinomas with gene methylation and a tendency for MSI-H. A high frequency of KRAS mutations in serrated adenocarcinomas suggests that a significant proportion of KRAS-mutated CRCs originate from serrated precursors, thus challenging the traditional model of Vogelstein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


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