Background: HR deficient (HRD) CRC has improved outcomes following exposure to DNA damaging agent (DDA) (irinotecan, IR; oxaliplatin, OX) compared to HRP CRC. Low expression of wild type (WT) BRCA1 mRNA is associated with prolonged OS in ovarian cancer; however, this finding has not been investigated in CRC or outside of BRCA. Here, we examine the effect of low expression of HR genes in HRP CRC on post-DDA survival.
Methods: 12,860 CRC samples were analyzed by NGS (592, NextSeq; WES, NovaSeq) and WTS (NovaSeq) at Caris Life Sciences (Phoenix, AZ). Samples were classified by RNA expression percentiles. Real world OS was extracted from insurance claims and calculated using Kaplan-Meier estimates for molecularly defined cohorts from first of OX or IR to last contact.
Results: Post-IR survival was prolonged with low expression of ATM, CHEK2 and PALB2 in WT ATM, PALB2, and CHEK2 WT CRC, respectively (bottom vs. top 10%, bottom vs. top 25%; p<0.05). Notably, low PALB2 expression (bottom 10%) showed a 14.5-month post-IR benefit compared to high PALB2 expression (top 10%) in WT PALB2 CRC (p=0.003). Post-OX survival was not significantly prolonged with low expression of CHEK2 in WT CHEK2 CRC (bottom 10% vs top 10%, bottom 25% vs top 25%) but was with low expression of ATM (+9.7 months, p=0.02) and PALB2 (+5.6 months, p=0.03) in WT ATM and PALB2 CRC, respectively (all bottom 25% vs top 25%).
Conclusions: Here we report the first findings to suggest a novel subclass of CRC defined as the low expression of mRNA of non-mutated HRD genes that exhibit sensitivity to DDA. Low expression of WT ATM, CHEK2, and PALB2 correlates with prolonged OS following IR, post-OX survival was prolonged with low expression of ATM and PALB2. Further characterization defining sensitivity of low expressing HRP genes to DDA may help guide treatment considerations in HRP CRC.External Link