Tumour mutational burden, microsatellite instability, and actionable alterations in metastatic colorectal cancer: Next-generation sequencing results of TRIBE2 study

Eur J Cancer. 2021 Sep:155:73-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2021.06.037. Epub 2021 Aug 5.


Background: We performed a comprehensive genomic profiling of tumour samples from metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients enrolled in the TRIBE2 study to assess the concordance among different techniques to evaluate mismatch repair (MMR) and microsatellite instability (MSI) status, to characterize tumours according to the tumour mutational burden (TMB) and explore the clinical relevance of different TMB cutpoints, and to investigate the prevalence of alterations actionable with targeted approaches or immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Material and methods: Tumour samples of 296 (44%) of 679 enrolled patients underwent 592-gene DNA next-generation sequencing (NGS). MMR status was assessed by immunohistochemistry (MMR-IHC), and MSI status was assessed by NGS (MSI-NGS). TMB was defined as low, intermediate, or high if <7, 7-16, or ≥17 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb) were found. The performance of TMB to predict MSI status was tested by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Actionable alterations included BRAF V600E, KRAS G12C, POLE mutations, HER2 amplification and mutations, and MSI-H.

Results: Of 216 paired cases, concordance between MMR-IHC and MSI-NGS was 98.6%. Among 11 TMB-high tumours, eight (73%) were MSI-H and three (27%) were microsatellite stable and harboured POLE or MSH6 mutations. High TMB had a trend for a better outcome than low/intermediate TMB (hazard ratio for overall survival 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.28-1.33; P = 0.106). No interaction effect between TMB and treatment arm was observed. Seventeen mut/Mb was identified as the optimal threshold of TMB for predicting MSI status. Actionable alterations were found in 62 (21%) of 296 patients.

Conclusions: Genomic profiling provides an overview of the genomic landscape of mCRC in a single analysis, including actionable targets and markers of immune sensitivity.

Keywords: Actionable alterations; MMR genes mutations; Metastatic colorectal cancer; Microsatellite instability; NGS; POLE mutation; Tumour mutational burden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Tumor Burden / genetics*