Genomic evolution and diverse models of systemic metastases in colorectal cancer.

The systemic spread of colorectal cancer (CRC) is dominated by the portal system and exhibits diverse patterns of metastasis without systematical genomic investigation. Here, we evaluated the genomic evolution of CRC with multiorgan metastases using multiregion sequencing.Whole-exome sequencing was performed on multiple regions (n=74) of matched primary tumour, adjacent non-cancerous mucosa, liver metastasis and lung metastasis from six patients with CRC. Phylogenetic reconstruction and evolutionary analyses were used to investigate the metastatic seeding pattern and clonal origin. Recurrent driver gene mutations were analysed across patients and validated in two independent cohorts. Metastatic assays were performed to examine the effect of the novel driver gene on the malignant behaviour of CRC cells.Based on the migration patterns and clonal origins, three models were revealed (sequential, branch-off and diaspora), which not only supported the anatomic assumption that CRC cells spread to lung after clonally expanding in the liver, but also illustrated the direct seeding of extrahepatic metastases from primary tumours independently. Unlike other cancer types, polyphyletic seeding occurs in CRC, which may result in late metastases with intermetastatic driver gene heterogeneity. In cases with rapid dissemination, we found recurrent trunk loss-of-function mutations in ZFP36L2, which is enriched in metastatic CRC and associated with poor overall survival. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of ZFP36L2 enhances the metastatic potential of CRC cells.Our results provide genomic evidence for metastatic evolution and indicate that biopsy/sequencing of metastases may be considered for patients with CRC with multiorgan or late postoperative metastasis.

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Authors: Hai-Ning Chen, Yang Shu, Fei Liao, Xue Liao, Hongying Zhang, Yun Qin, Zhu Wang, Maochao Luo, Qiuluo Liu, Zhinan Xue, Minyuan Cao, Shouyue Zhang, Wei-Han Zhang, Qianqian Hou, Xuyang Xia, Han Luo, Yan Zhang, Lie Yang, Jian-Kun Hu, Xianghui Fu, Bo Liu, Hongbo Hu, Canhua Huang, Yong Peng, Wei Cheng, Lunzhi Dai, Li Yang, Wei Zhang, Biao Dong, Yuan Li, Yuquan Wei, Heng Xu, Zong-Guang Zhou