Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Systematic genomic identification of colorectal cancer genes delineating advanced from early clinical stage and metastasis

HoJoon Lee1, Patrick Flaherty2 and Hanlee P Ji13*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01605, USA

3 Stanford Genome Technology Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

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BMC Medical Genomics 2013, 6:54  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-6-54

Published: 5 December 2013

Abstract

Background

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The initial assessment of colorectal cancer involves clinical staging that takes into account the extent of primary tumor invasion, determining the number of lymph nodes with metastatic cancer and the identification of metastatic sites in other organs. Advanced clinical stage indicates metastatic cancer, either in regional lymph nodes or in distant organs. While the genomic and genetic basis of colorectal cancer has been elucidated to some degree, less is known about the identity of specific cancer genes that are associated with advanced clinical stage and metastasis.

Methods

We compiled multiple genomic data types (mutations, copy number alterations, gene expression and methylation status) as well as clinical meta-data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We used an elastic-net regularized regression method on the combined genomic data to identify genetic aberrations and their associated cancer genes that are indicators of clinical stage. We ranked candidate genes by their regression coefficient and level of support from multiple assay modalities.

Results

A fit of the elastic-net regularized regression to 197 samples and integrated analysis of four genomic platforms identified the set of top gene predictors of advanced clinical stage, including: WRN, SYK, DDX5 and ADRA2C. These genetic features were identified robustly in bootstrap resampling analysis.

Conclusions

We conducted an analysis integrating multiple genomic features including mutations, copy number alterations, gene expression and methylation. This integrated approach in which one considers all of these genomic features performs better than any individual genomic assay. We identified multiple genes that robustly delineate advanced clinical stage, suggesting their possible role in colorectal cancer metastatic progression.

Keywords:
Colorectal cancer; Genomics; Genetics; Clinical stage; Metastasis