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Oncogenetic tree model of somatic mutations and DNA methylation in colon tumors

Our understanding of somatic alterations in colon cancer has evolved from a concept of a series of events taking place in a single sequence to a recognition of multiple pathways. An oncogenetic tree is a model intended to describe the pathways and sequence of somatic alterations in carcinogenesis without assuming that tumors will fall in mutually exclusive categories. We applied this model to data on colon tumor somatic alterations. An oncogenetic tree model was built using data on mutations of TP53, KRAS2, APC, and BRAF genes, methylation at CpG sites of MLH1 and TP16 genes, methylation in tumor (MINT) markers, and microsatellite instability (MSI) for 971 colon tumors from a population-based series. Oncogenetic tree analysis resulted in a reproducible tree with three branches. The model represents methylation of MINT markers as initiating a branch and predisposing to MSI, methylation of MHL1 and TP16, and BRAF mutation. APC mutation is the first alteration in an independent branch and is followed by TP53 mutation. KRAS2 mutation was placed a third independent branch, implying that it neither depends on, nor predisposes to, the other alterations. Individual tumors were observed to have alteration patterns representing every combination of one, two, or all three branches. The oncogenetic tree model assumptions are appropriate for the observed heterogeneity of colon tumors, and the model produces a useful visual schematic of the sequence of events in pathways of colon carcinogenesis.

Authors: Sweeney C; Boucher KM; Samowitz WS; Wolff RK; Albertsen H; Curtin K; Caan BJ; Slattery ML

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2009 Jan;48(1):1-9.

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