Correlation between KRAS Mutation and CTLA-4 mRNA Expression in Circulating Tumour Cells: Clinical Implications in Colorectal Cancer

Sharmin Aktar, Farhadul Islam, Tracie Cheng, Sujani Madhurika Kodagoda Gamage, Indra Neil Choudhury, Md Sajedul Islam, Cu Tai Lu, Faysal Bin Hamid, Hirotaka Ishida, Ichiro Abe, Nan Xie, Vinod Gopalan*, Alfred K. Lam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Combination strategies of KRAS inhibition with immunotherapy in treating advanced or recurrent colorectal carcinoma (CRC) may need to be assessed in circulating tumour cells (CTCs) to achieve better clinical outcomes. This study aimed to investigate the genomic variations of KRAS in CTCs and matched CRC tissues and compared mRNA expression of KRAS and CTLA-4 between wild-type and KRAS-mutated CTCs and CRC tissues. Clinicopathological correlations were also compared. Six known mutations of KRAS were identified at both codon 12 and codon 13 (c.35G>T/G12V, c.35G>A7/G12D, c.35G>C/G12A, c.34G>A/G12S, c.38G>C/G13A, and c.38G>A/G13D). Three CTC samples harboured the identified mutations (16.7%; 3/18), while fifteen matched primary tumour tissues (65.2%, 15/23) showed the mutations. CTCs harbouring the KRAS variant were different from matched CRC tissue. All the mutations were heterozygous. Though insignificant, CTLA-4 mRNA expression was higher in patients carrying KRAS mutations. Patients harbouring KRAS mutations in CTCs were more likely to have poorly differentiated tumours (p = 0.039) and with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.027) and perineural invasion (p = 0.014). KRAS mutations in CTCs were also significantly correlated with overall pathological stages (p = 0.027). These findings imply the genetic basis of KRAS with immunotherapeutic target molecules based on a real-time platform. This study also suggests the highly heterogeneous nature of cancer cells, which may facilitate the assessment of clonal dynamics across a single patient’s disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1808
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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