MED12 is recurrently mutated in Middle Eastern colorectal cancer

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ObjectiveColorectal cancer (CRC) is a common cancer and a leading cause of cancer deaths. Previous studies have identified a number of key steps in the evolution of CRC but our knowledge of driver mutations in CRC remains incomplete. Recognising the potential of studying different human populations to reveal novel insights in disease pathogenesis, we conducted genomic analysis of CRC in Saudi patients.DesignIn the discovery phase of the study, we conducted whole genome sequencing of tumour and corresponding germline DNA in 27 patients with CRC. In addition to known driver mutations, we identified three MED12 somatic mutations. In the replication phase, we employed a next-generation sequencing approach to capture and sequence MED12 and other candidate genes in a larger sample of 400 patients with CRC and confirmed the enrichment for recurrent MED12 mutations.ResultsIn order to gain insight into a plausible biological mechanism for the potential role of MED12 mutations in CRC, we studied CRC cell lines that differ substantially in the expression level of MED12, and found the latter to be correlated inversely with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signalling and directly with apoptosis in response to chemotherapeutic agents. Importantly, these correlations were replicated when MED12 expression was experimentally manipulated.ConclusionsOur data expand the recently described role of MED12 as a tumour suppressor in other cancers to include CRC, and suggest TGF-β signalling as a potential mediator of this effect.

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