Cancer-cell intrinsic gene expression signatures overcome intratumoural heterogeneity bias in colorectal cancer patient classification.
Dunne PD., Alderdice M., O'Reilly PG., Roddy AC., McCorry AMB., Richman S., Maughan T., McDade SS., Johnston PG., Longley DB., Kay E., McArt DG., Lawler M.
Stromal-derived intratumoural heterogeneity (ITH) has been shown to undermine molecular stratification of patients into appropriate prognostic/predictive subgroups. Here, using several clinically relevant colorectal cancer (CRC) gene expression signatures, we assessed the susceptibility of these signatures to the confounding effects of ITH using gene expression microarray data obtained from multiple tumour regions of a cohort of 24 patients, including central tumour, the tumour invasive front and lymph node metastasis. Sample clustering alongside correlative assessment revealed variation in the ability of each signature to cluster samples according to patient-of-origin rather than region-of-origin within the multi-region dataset. Signatures focused on cancer-cell intrinsic gene expression were found to produce more clinically useful, patient-centred classifiers, as exemplified by the CRC intrinsic signature (CRIS), which robustly clustered samples by patient-of-origin rather than region-of-origin. These findings highlight the potential of cancer-cell intrinsic signatures to reliably stratify CRC patients by minimising the confounding effects of stromal-derived ITH.