Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancer diseases in the world after lung and female breast cancer and approximately 945 000 new cases are diagnosed every year. CRC is caused by genetic alterations in the DNA, which results in cell cycle acceleration, escape from apoptosis, senescence, angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis. In this thesis, we have investigated molecular genetic alterations for the development of CRC and focused on the MAPK pathway, HIF-1 α and NOS2 genes.
Alterations in the MAPK pathway have been found in several different cancer forms, including CRe. In the present study, we found somatic mutations in the MAPK pathway in 50% of the CRCs; 40% of the tumors carried mutations in the KRAS gene and 10% carried BRAF mutations. No genetic alterations were found in the ARAF or RAF-1 genes. B&4F gene mutations were present only in exon 15 and were associated with micro satellite instability. Three mutation types were identified; V599E, D593G and K600N, whereof the latter has not previously been described.
The hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-la protein is involved in the oxygen sensing mechanism and several tumor types show HIF-la overexpression due to hypoxia. At normoxia, HIF-la is degraded by interaction with the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein followed by an ubiquitin-proteasome dependent degradation mechanism, which prevents HIF-l a from nuclear translocation and transcription of downstream target genes. Fifteen percent of CRC patients and normal healthy population was found to carry the P582S polymorphism in the HIF-1 α gene, which previously has been associated to higher transactivating capacity. In the present study, the polymorphism was associated to ulcerative tumor development. In addition, loss of heterozygosity of the wild type P582 allele in heterozygotes may contribute to the development of ulcerative CRCs. However, the overall mechanism for ulcerative tumor development is still unclear.
Nitric oxide (NO) is involved in several physiological processes, such as apoptosis, neurotransmission, angiogenesis and immune defence and is produced by three nitric oxide synthases; NOSl-3. In the present study, NOS2 upregulation was identified in CRCs compared to normal intestinal mucosa. Moreover, the contribution of NOS2 in CRC development was investigated in APCMin/+ and APCMin/+ NOS2-/- mice. The APCMin/+ NOS-/- mice developed a higher polyp frequency compared to APCMin/+ mice, indicating a protective role for the presence of NOS2 in intestinal cancer development. The elevated polyp formation in the APCMin/+ NOS-/- mice was independent of the expression of Notch-l and p21. We also investigated whether polymorphisms in the NOS2 promoter affected the onset of CRC, but no differences in allele or genotype frequencies were observed in normal healthy population compared to CRC patients.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2005. , 83 p.
2005-01-21, Berzeliussalen, Halsouniversitetet, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)