de Miranda N F, Hes F J, van Wezel T, Morreau H
Two forms of genomic instability can be distinguished in colorectal cancer (CRC) tumourigenesis. One is characterised by pronounced chromosomal instability (CIN), while the other relates to alterations produced at the nucleotide level that preferentially target microsatellite sequences. Tumours developing under the latter form of genomic instability possess a microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) phenotype due to inactivation of the DNA mismatch repair system. The most recently described CRC syndrome, MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP), shares characteristics with both MSI-H and CIN cancers. MAP carcinomas develop from the impairment of the base excision repair system, where MUTYH is involved, but also present a peculiar form of CIN. Several clinicopathological characteristics of MSI-H and MAP CRCs overlap such as tumour location, clinical prognosis and histological features. We propose that MSI-H and MAP CRCs are particularly prone to interact with their tumour microenvironment. A great deal of this interaction is probably stimulated by the immunogenic character of those tumours, known to possess a high mutagenic potential. The accumulation of mutations in coding regions of the genome of MSI-H and MAP carcinomas is likely to translate into a surplus of neo-antigens that trigger an anti-tumour immune response. The immune system constitutes thus an important vector of selective pressure that favours the outgrowth of tumour clones with immune-evasive phenotypes. In this review, we summarise the evidence for the influence of the tumour microenvironment in MSI-H and MAP tumourigenesis. Furthermore, we discuss how particular features of MSI-H and MAP CRCs can be exploited for the development of therapeutic strategies for affected patients.
Leiden University Medical Centre
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