Table_1_Increased Levels of Genomic Instability and Mutations in Homologous Recombination Genes in Locally Advanced Rectal Carcinomas.DOCX

<p>Pre-operative 5-fluoracil-based chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) is the standard treatment for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Patients with pathological complete response (pCR–0% of tumor cells in the surgical specimen after nCRT) have better overall survival and lower risk of recurrence in comparison with incomplete responders (pIR). Predictive biomarkers to be used for new therapeutic strategies and capable of stratifying patients to avoid overtreatment are needed. We evaluated the genomic profiles of 33 pre-treatment LARC biopsies using SNP array and targeted-next generation sequencing (tNGS). Based on the large number of identified genomic alterations, we calculated the genomic instability index (GII) and three homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) scores, which have been reported as impaired DNA repair markers. We observed high GII in our LARC cases, which was confirmed in 165 rectal cancer cases from TCGA. Patients with pCR presented higher GII compared with pIR. Moreover, a negative correlation between GII and the fraction of tumor cells remaining after surgery was observed (ρ = –0.382, P = 0.02). High HRD scores were detected in 61% of LARC, of which 70% were incomplete responders. Using tNGS (105 cancer-related genes, 13 involved in HR and 5 in mismatch repair pathways), we identified 23% of cases with mutations in HR genes, mostly in pIR cases (86% of mutated cases). In agreement, the analysis of the TCGA dataset (N = 145) revealed 21% of tumors with mutations in HR genes. The HRD scores were shown to be predictive of better response to PARP-inhibitors and platinum-based chemotherapy in breast and ovarian cancer. Our results suggest that the same strategy could be applied in a set of LARC patients with HRD. In conclusion, we identified high genomic instability in LARC, which was related to alterations in the HR pathway, especially in pIR. These findings suggest that patients with impaired HRD would clinically benefit from PARP-inhibitors and platinum-based therapy.</p>