Identification of EMT-related high-risk stage II colorectal cancer and characterisation of metastasis-related genes

Colorectal Cancer

Wang K, et al. Br J Cancer 2020.


BACKGROUND: Our laboratory previously reported an individual-level prognostic signature for patients with stage II colorectal cancer (CRC). However, this signature was not applicable for RNA-sequencing datasets. In this study, we constructed a robust epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)- related gene pair prognostic signature.

METHODS: Based on EMT-related genes, metastasis-associated gene pairs were identified between metastatic and non-metastatic samples. Then, we selected prognosis-associated gene pairs, which were significantly correlated with disease-free survival of stage II CRC using multivariate Cox regression model, as the EMT-related prognosis signature.

RESULTS: An EMT-related signature composed of fifty-one gene pairs (51-GPS) for prediction-relapse risk of patients with stage II CRC was developed, whose prognostic efficiency was validated in independent datasets. Moreover, 51-GPS achieved better predictive performance than other reported signatures, including a commercial signature Oncotype Dx colon cancer and an immune-related gene pair signature. Besides, EMT-related functional gene sets achieved high enrichment scores in high-risk samples. Especially, loss-of-function antisense approach showed that DEGs between the predicted two clusters were metastasis-related.

CONCLUSIONS: The EMT-related gene pair signature can identify the high relapse-risk patients with stage II CRC, which can facilitate individualised management of patients.