The molecular landscape of synchronous colorectal cancer reveals genetic heterogeneity

Carcinogenesis. 2018 May 3;39(5):708-718. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgy040.


Synchronous colorectal cancers (syCRCs), which present two or more lesions at diagnosis, are rare and pose a great challenge for clinical management. Although some predisposing factors associated with syCRCs have been studied with limited accession, the full repertoire of genomic events among the lesions within an individual and the causes of syCRCs remain unclear. We performed whole-exome sequencing of 40 surgical tumour samples of paired lesions from 20 patients to characterize the genetic alterations. Lesions from same patient showed distinct landscapes of somatic aberrations and shared few mutations, which suggests that they originate and develop independently, although they shared the similar genetic background. Canonical genes, such as APC, KRAS, TP53 and PIK3CA, were frequently mutated in the syCRCs, and most of them show different mutation profile compared with solitary colorectal cancer. We identified a recurrent somatic alteration (K15fs) in RPL22 in 25% of the syCRCs. Functional analysis indicated that mutated RPL22 may suppress cell apoptosis and promote the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Potential drug targets were identified in several signalling pathways, and they present great discrepancy between lesions from the same patient. Our data show that the syCRCs within the same patient present great genetic heterogeneity, and they may be driven by distinct molecular events and develop independently. The discrepancy of potential drug targets and mutation burden in lesions from one patient provides valuable information in clinical management for patients with syCRCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Exome / genetics
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics