Evolutionary history of human colitis-associated colorectal cancer
Baker A-M., Cross W., Curtius K., Al Bakir I., Choi C-HR., Davis HL., Temko D., Biswas S., Martinez P., Williams MJ., Lindsay JO., Feakins R., Vega R., Hayes SJ., Tomlinson IPM., McDonald SAC., Moorghen M., Silver A., East JE., Wright NA., Wang LM., Rodriguez-Justo M., Jansen M., Hart AL., Leedham SJ., Graham TA.
ObjectiveIBD confers an increased lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), and colitis-associated CRC (CA-CRC) is molecularly distinct from sporadic CRC (S-CRC). Here we have dissected the evolutionary history of CA-CRC using multiregion sequencing.DesignExome sequencing was performed on fresh-frozen multiple regions of carcinoma, adjacent non-cancerous mucosa and blood from 12 patients with CA-CRC (n=55 exomes), and key variants were validated with orthogonal methods. Genome-wide copy number profiling was performed using single nucleotide polymorphism arrays and low-pass whole genome sequencing on archival non-dysplastic mucosa (n=9), low-grade dysplasia (LGD; n=30), high-grade dysplasia (HGD; n=13), mixed LGD/HGD (n=7) and CA-CRC (n=19). Phylogenetic trees were reconstructed, and evolutionary analysis used to reveal the temporal sequence of events leading to CA-CRC.Results10/12 tumours were microsatellite stable with a median mutation burden of 3.0 single nucleotide alterations (SNA) per Mb, ~20% higher than S-CRC (2.5 SNAs/Mb), and consistent with elevated ageing-associated mutational processes. Non-dysplastic mucosa had considerable mutation burden (median 47 SNAs), including mutations shared with the neighbouring CA-CRC, indicating a precancer mutational field. CA-CRCs were often near triploid (40%) or near tetraploid (20%) and phylogenetic analysis revealed that copy number alterations (CNAs) began to accrue in non-dysplastic bowel, but the LGD/HGD transition often involved a punctuated ‘catastrophic’ CNA increase.ConclusionsEvolutionary genomic analysis revealed precancer clones bearing extensive SNAs and CNAs, with progression to cancer involving a dramatic accrual of CNAs at HGD. Detection of the cancerised field is an encouraging prospect for surveillance, but punctuated evolution may limit the window for early detection.