Combined Microsatellite Instability and Elevated Microsatellite Alterations at Selected Tetranucleotide Repeats (EMAST) Might Be a More Promising Immune Biomarker in Colorectal Cancer

Ming Huang Chen*, Shih Ching Chang, Pei Ching Lin, Shung Haur Yang, Chun Chi Lin, Yuan Tzu Lan, Hung Hsin Lin, Chien Hsing Lin, Jiun I. Lai, Wen Yi Liang, Meng Lun Lu, Muh Hwa Yang, Yee Chao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The form of microsatellite instability (MSI) affecting tetranucleotide repeats known as elevated microsatellite alterations at selected tetranucleotide repeats (EMAST) has emerged as a new potential biomarker in multiple cancers. In colorectal cancer (CRC), the correlation between EMAST and MSI mutations remain inconclusive. Materials and Methods: We evaluated 1,505 patients with CRC using five EMAST markers (D20S82, D20S85, D8S321, D9S242, and MYCL1) and the Bethesda panel of MSI markers. Most commonly, mutations involved in CRCs were identified by MassArray Assay, and DNA repair genes were analyzed by next-generation sequencing. Clinical characteristics and prognostic relevance were correlated with EMAST and MSI. Results: Tumors that were EMAST positive and MSI high (MSI-H) were detected in 159 (10.6%) and 154 (10.2%) of 1,505 patients with CRC. Patients were divided into four groups according to EMAST and MSI status (EMAST-positive and MSI-H, EMAST-positive and microsatellite-stable [MSS], EMAST-negative and MSI-H, and EMAST-negative and MSS). The EMAST-positive and MSI-H group was associated with female predominance, higher prevalence of proximal colon tumors, early stage tumors, poorly differentiated tumors, mucinous histology, and higher incidence of mutations in PI3KCA, BRAF, TGFBR, PTEN, and AKT1 compared with other groups. Furthermore, compared with only EMAST-positive tumors or only MSI-H tumors, tumors that were both EMAST-positive and MSI-H had a higher frequency of MLH1, MSH3, MSH6, PMS2, and EXO1 gene mutations. Finally, the presence of EMAST-positive and MSI-H tumors was a good prognostic indicator in CRC. Conclusion: High mutations in several DNA repair genes in EMAST-positive and MSI-H tumors suggest that this subtype of CRC might be more suitable for treatment with immune therapy. Implications for Practice: Elevated microsatellite alterations at selected tetranucleotide repeats (EMAST) is a unique molecular subtype of colorectal cancer (CRC). The current study demonstrated that the EMAST-positive and MSI-high (MSI-H) group was associated with female predominance, higher prevalence of proximal colon tumors, early stage tumors, poorly differentiated tumors, mucinous histology, and higher incidence of mutations in PI3KCA, BRAF, TGFBR, PTEN, and AKT1 compared with other groups. Most importantly, high mutations in DNA repair genes and MSI-related genes in EMAST-positive and MSI-H tumors suggest that this subtype of CRC might be more suitable for treatment with immune therapy compared with MSI-H tumors alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1534-1542
Number of pages9
JournalOncologist
Volume24
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Colorectal cancer
  • EMAST
  • Immune biomarkers
  • Microsatellite instability

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