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Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Mar 15;20(6):1687-97. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1517. Epub 2014 Jan 27.

A functional germline variant in GLI1 implicates hedgehog signaling in clinical outcome of stage II and III colon carcinoma patients.

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Authors' Affiliations: Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Medicine; Research Unit: Genetic Epidemiology and Pharmacogenetics, Division of Clinical Oncology; Institute of Pathology; Clinical Institute of Medical and Laboratory Diagnostics, Medical University of Graz; Department of Pathology, General Hospital Graz West, Graz; Department of Pathology, General Hospital of Leoben, Leoben, Austria; and Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital Zuerich, Zuerich, Switzerland.



Cumulating evidence indicates that germline variants in the Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathways are involved in colon carcinoma progression and metastasis. We investigated germline polymorphisms in a comprehensive panel of Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathway genes to predict time to recurrence (TTR) and overall survival in patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma.


A total of 742 consecutively collected patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma were included in this retrospective study. Genomic DNA was analyzed for 18 germline polymorphisms in Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathway genes (SFRP, DKK 2 and 3, AXIN2, APC, MYC, TCF7L2, NOTCH2, and GLI1) by TaqMan 5'-exonuclease assays.


In univariate analysis, the homozygous mutant variant of GLI1 rs2228226 G>C was significantly associated with decreased TTR in a recessive genetic model after adjustment for multiple testing [HR = 2.35; confidence interval (95% CI), 1.48-3.74; P < 0.001] and remained significant in multivariate analysis including clinical stage, lymphovascular-, vascular-, and perineural-invasion (HR = 2.43; CI 95%, 1.52-3.87; P < 0.001). In subanalyses, the association was limited to patients with surgery alone (HR = 3.21; CI 95%, 1.59-6.49; P = 0.001), in contrast with patients with adjuvant chemotherapy (HR = 0.82; CI 95%, 0.35-1.95; P = 0.657). When the subgroup of patients with "high-risk" GLI1 rs2228226 C/C genotype was analyzed, no benefit of adjuvant 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy could be found.


This is the first study identifying GLI1 rs2228226 G>C as an independent prognostic marker in patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma. Prospective studies are warranted to validate our findings.

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