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Cancer Informatics

Tumor RAS Gene Expression Levels Are Influenced by the Mutational Status of RAS Genes and Both Upstream and Downstream RAS Pathway Genes

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Cancer Informatics 2017:16 1176935117711944

Original Research

Published on 08 Jun 2017

DOI: 10.1177/1176935117711944


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Abstract

The 3 human RAS genes play pivotal roles regulating proliferation, differentiation, and survival in normal cells and become mutated in 15% to 20% of all human tumors and amplified in many others. In this report, we examined data from The Cancer Genome Atlas to investigate the relationship between RAS gene mutational status and messenger RNA expression. We show that all 3 RAS genes exhibit increased expression when they are mutated in a context-dependent manner. In the case of KRAS, this increase is manifested by a larger proportional increase in KRAS4A than KRAS4B, although both increase significantly. In addition, the mutational status of RAS genes can be associated with expression changes in other RAS genes, with most of these cases showing decreased expression. The mutational status associations with expression are recapitulated in cancer cell lines. Increases in expression are mediated by both copy number variation and contextual differences, including mutational status of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and BRAF. These findings potentially reveal an adaptive response during tumor evolution that is dependent on the mutational status of proximal genes in the RAS pathway and cellular context. Cell contextual differences in these adaptations may influence therapeutic responsiveness and alternative resistance mechanisms.



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