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EMBO Mol Med. 2011 Jun;3(6):334-47. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201100141. Epub 2011 May 3.

Preinvasive colorectal lesion transcriptomes correlate with endoscopic morphology (polypoid vs. nonpolypoid).

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Institute of Molecular Cancer Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


Improved colonoscopy is revealing precancerous lesions that were frequently missed in the past, and ∼30% of those detected today have nonpolypoid morphologies ranging from slightly raised to depressed. To characterize these lesions molecularly, we assessed transcription of 23,768 genes in 42 precancerous lesions (25 slightly elevated nonpolypoid and 17 pedunculated polypoid), each with corresponding samples of normal mucosa. Nonpolypoid versus polypoid morphology explained most gene expression variance among samples; histology, size, and degree of dysplasia were also linked to specific patterns. Expression changes in polypoid lesions frequently affected cell-cycling pathways, whereas cell-survival dysregulation predominated in nonpolypoid lesions. The latter also displayed fewer and less dramatic expression changes than polypoid lesions. Paradigmatic of this trend was progressive loss through the normal > nonpolypoid > polypoid > cancer sequence of TMIGD1 mRNA and protein. This finding, along with TMIGD1 protein expression patterns in tissues and cell lines, suggests that TMIGD1 might be associated with intestinal-cell differentiation. We conclude that molecular dysregulation in slightly elevated, nonpolypoid, precancerous colorectal lesions may be somewhat less severe than that observed in classic adenomatous polyps.

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