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Oncomicrobial Community Profiling Identifies Clinicomolecular and Prognostic Subtypes of Colorectal Cancer.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Dysbiosis of gut microbiota is linked to the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, microbiota-based stratification of CRC tissue and how this relates to clinicomolecular characteristics and prognosis remains to be clarified.

METHODS: Tumor and normal mucosa from 423 patients with stage I to IV CRC were profiled by bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Tumors were characterized for microsatellite instability (MSI), CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), APC, BRAF, KRAS, PIK3CA, FBXW7, SMAD4, and TP53 mutations, subsets for chromosome instability (CIN), mutation signatures, and consensus molecular subtypes (CMS). Microbial clusters were validated in an independent cohort of 293 stage II/III tumors.

RESULTS: Tumors reproducibly stratified into 3 oncomicrobial community subtypes (OCSs) with distinguishing features: OCS1 (Fusobacterium/oral pathogens, proteolytic, 21%), right-sided, high-grade, MSI-high, CIMP-positive, CMS1, BRAF V600E, and FBXW7 mutated; OCS2 (Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes, saccharolytic, 44%), and OCS3 (Escherichia/Pseudescherichia/Shigella, fatty acid β-oxidation, 35%) both left-sided and exhibiting CIN. OCS1 was associated with MSI-related mutation signatures (SBS15, SBS20, ID2, and ID7) and OCS2 and OCS3 with SBS18 related to damage by reactive oxygen species. Among stage II/III patients, OCS1 and OCS3 both had poorer overall survival compared with OCS2 for microsatellite stable tumors (multivariate hazard ratio [HR], 1.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15-2.99; P = .012; and HR, 1.52; 95% CI 1.01-2.29; P = .044, respectively) and left-sided tumors (multivariate HR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.45-4.86; P = .002; and HR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.03-3.02; P = .039, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: OCS classification stratified CRCs into 3 distinct subgroups with different clinicomolecular features and outcomes. Our findings provide a framework for a microbiota-based stratification of CRC to refine prognostication and to inform the development of microbiota-targeted interventions.

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