BRAFV600E mutation impinges on gut microbial markers defining novel biomarkers for serrated colorectal cancer effective therapies

Nadia Trivieri, Riccardo Pracella, Maria Grazia Cariglia, Concetta Panebianco, Paola Parrella, Alberto Visioli, Fabrizio Giani, Amata Amy Soriano, Chiara Barile, Giuseppe Canistro, Tiziana Pia Latiano, Lucia Dimitri, Francesca Bazzocchi, Dario Cassano, Angelo L. Vescovi, Valerio Pazienza, Elena Binda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) harboring BRAFV600E mutation exhibits low response to conventional therapy and poorest prognosis. Due to the emerging correlation between gut microbiota and CRC carcinogenesis, we investigated in serrated BRAFV600E cases the existence of a peculiar fecal microbial fingerprint and specific bacterial markers, which might represent a tool for the development of more effective clinical strategies. Methods: By injecting human CRC stem-like cells isolated from BRAFV600E patients in immunocompromised mice, we described a new xenogeneic model of this subtype of CRC. By performing bacterial 16S rRNA sequencing, the fecal microbiota profile was then investigated either in CRC-carrying mice or in a cohort of human CRC subjects. The microbial communities’ functional profile was also predicted. Data were compared with Mann-Whitney U, Welch’s t-test for unequal variances and Kruskal-Wallis test with Benjamini–Hochberg false discovery rate (FDR) correction, extracted as potential BRAF class biomarkers and selected as model features. The obtained mean test prediction scores were subjected to Receiver Operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. To discriminate the BRAF status, a Random Forest classifier (RF) was employed. Results: A specific microbial signature distinctive for BRAF status emerged, being the BRAF-mutated cases closer to healthy controls than BRAF wild-type counterpart. In agreement, a considerable score of correlation was also pointed out between bacteria abundance from BRAF-mutated cases and the level of markers distinctive of BRAFV600E pathway, including those involved in inflammation, innate immune response and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. We provide evidence that two candidate bacterial markers, Prevotella enoeca and Ruthenibacterium lactatiformans, more abundant in BRAFV600E and BRAF wild-type subjects respectively, emerged as single factors with the best performance in distinguishing BRAF status (AUROC = 0.72 and 0.74, respectively, 95% confidence interval). Furthermore, the combination of the 10 differentially represented microorganisms between the two groups improved performance in discriminating serrated CRC driven by BRAF mutation from BRAF wild-type CRC cases (AUROC = 0.85, 95% confidence interval, 0.69–1.01). Conclusion: Overall, our results suggest that BRAFV600E mutation itself drives a distinctive gut microbiota signature and provide predictive CRC-associated bacterial biomarkers able to discriminate BRAF status in CRC patients and, thus, useful to devise non-invasive patient-selective diagnostic strategies and patient-tailored optimized therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number285
Pages (from-to)285
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 14 2020


  • Anti-BRAF CRC patient-tailored strategies
  • BRAF CRC non-invasive diagnosis
  • CRC biology and biomarkers
  • Gut microbiota
  • Serrated human BRAF colorectal carcinoma (CRC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'BRAFV600E mutation impinges on gut microbial markers defining novel biomarkers for serrated colorectal cancer effective therapies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this