The impact of ARID1A mutation on molecular characteristics in colorectal cancer

Published:October 17, 2020DOI:


      • The impact of ARID1A mutations was analysed using 7978 colorectal cancer samples.
      • ARID1A mutation was linked to immune activation, right-sided tumour and early stage.
      • ARID1A mutation may be a biomarker for chemotherapy/radiotherapy and targeted therapy.



      ARID1A is a key subunit of the SWItch/Sucrose Non-Fermentable (SWI/SNF) complex which regulates dynamic repositioning of nucleosomes to repair DNA damage. Only small pilot studies have evaluated the role of ARID1A mutation in colorectal cancer (CRC). The aim of the present study was to explore the potential impact of ARID1A mutation on clinicopathological and molecular characteristics in CRC.


      We used integrated data sets of 7978 CRC cases (one data set from a clinical laboratory improvement amendments [CLIA]-certified laboratory and three independent published data sets). The associations of ARID1A mutation with molecular characteristics including immune profile (the status of microsatellite instability [MSI], tumour mutational burden [TMB], programmed death ligand 1 [PD-L1] and estimated infiltrating immune cells), clinicopathological features and related pathways were analysed using next-generation sequencing, RNA sequencing and immunohistochemistry.


      ARID1A mutant samples had more genomically unstable tumour features (MSI-high and TMB-high) and exhibited more characteristics of a T-cell–inflamed microenvironment (PD-L1 expression and high estimated infiltrating cytotoxic T lymphocytes [CTLs]) than ARID1A wild-type samples in the discovery and validation cohorts. Even ARID1A mutant samples without MSI-high status were TMB-high, had high levels of PD-L1 expression and high estimated infiltrating CTLs. ARID1A mutations were more common with right-sided primary and earlier stage tumours. ARID1A mutant tumours mainly had co-occurring gene mutations related to chromatin modifying, DNA repair, WNT signalling and epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor resistance pathways, and ARID1A mutations strongly regulated DNA repair pathways. Key genes for chemotherapy/radiotherapy sensitivity were suppressed in ARID1A mutant samples.


      Our findings may provide novel insights to develop individualised approaches for treatment of CRC based on ARID1A mutation status.



      CRC (colorectal cancer), CTL (cytotoxic T lymphocyte), IHC (immunohistochemistry), Mb (megabase), MSI (microsatellite instability), MSI-H (MSI-high), MSI-L (MSI-low), MSS (microsatellite stable), NGS (next-generation sequencing), PD-L1 (programmed death ligand 1), TMB (tumour mutational burden), TMB-H (TMB-high)
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