Colorectal cancer carcinogenesis: a review of mechanisms

Cancer Biol Med. 2016 Mar;13(1):120-35. doi: 10.28092/j.issn.2095-3941.2015.0103.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common in men globally. CRC arises from one or a combination of chromosomal instability, CpG island methylator phenotype, and microsatellite instability. Genetic instability is usually caused by aneuploidy and loss of heterozygosity. Mutations in the tumor suppressor or cell cycle genes may also lead to cellular transformation. Similarly, epigenetic and/or genetic alterations resulting in impaired cellular pathways, such as DNA repair mechanism, may lead to microsatellite instability and mutator phenotype. Non-coding RNAs, more importantly microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs have also been implicated at various CRC stages. Understanding the specific mechanisms of tumorigenesis and the underlying genetic and epigenetic traits is critical in comprehending the disease phenotype. This paper reviews these mechanisms along with the roles of various non-coding RNAs in CRCs.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; chromosomal instability; microsatellite instability; non-coding RNA mismatch repair.