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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25062. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025062. Epub 2011 Sep 20.

TGFBR2 and BAX mononucleotide tract mutations, microsatellite instability, and prognosis in 1072 colorectal cancers.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



Mononucleotide tracts in the coding regions of the TGFBR2 and BAX genes are commonly mutated in microsatellite instability-high (MSI-high) colon cancers. The receptor TGFBR2 plays an important role in the TGFB1 (transforming growth factor-β, TGF-β) signaling pathway, and BAX plays a key role in apoptosis. However, a role of TGFBR2 or BAX mononucleotide mutation in colorectal cancer as a prognostic biomarker remains uncertain.


We utilized a database of 1072 rectal and colon cancers in two prospective cohort studies (the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study). Cox proportional hazards model was used to compute mortality hazard ratio (HR), adjusted for clinical, pathological and molecular features including the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), LINE-1 methylation, and KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA mutations. MSI-high was observed in 15% (162/1072) of all colorectal cancers. TGFBR2 and BAX mononucleotide mutations were detected in 74% (117/159) and 30% (48/158) of MSI-high tumors, respectively. In Kaplan-Meier analysis as well as univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses, compared to microsatellite stable (MSS)/MSI-low cases, MSI-high cases were associated with superior colorectal cancer-specific survival [adjusted HR, 0.34; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.20-0.57] regardless of TGFBR2 or BAX mutation status. Among MSI-high tumors, TGFBR2 mononucleotide mutation was associated with CIMP-high independent of other variables [multivariate odds ratio, 3.57; 95% CI, 1.66-7.66; p = 0.0011].


TGFBR2 or BAX mononucleotide mutations are not associated with the patient survival outcome in MSI-high colorectal cancer. Our data do not support those mutations as prognostic biomarkers (beyond MSI) in colorectal carcinoma.

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