Colon Tumors in Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF)-Colonized Mice Do Not Display a Unique Mutational Signature but Instead Possess Host-Dependent Alterations in the APC Gene

Jawara Allen, Axel Rosendahl Huber, Cayetano Pleguezuelos-Manzano, Jens Puschhof, Shaoguang Wu, Xinqun Wu, Charelle Boot, Aurelia Saftien, Heather M O'Hagan, Hao Wang, Ruben van Boxtel, Hans Clevers, Cynthia L Sears

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) is consistently found at higher frequency in individuals with sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancer (CRC) and induces tumorigenesis in several mouse models of CRC. However, whether specific mutations induced by ETBF lead to colon tumor formation has not been investigated. To determine if ETBF-induced mutations impact the Apc gene, and other tumor suppressors or proto-oncogenes, we performed whole-exome sequencing and whole-genome sequencing on tumors isolated after ETBF and sham colonization of Apcmin/+ and Apcmin/+Msh2fl/flVC mice, as well as whole-genome sequencing of organoids cocultured with ETBF. Our results indicate that ETBF-induced tumor formation results from loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of Apc, unless the mismatch repair system is disrupted, in which case, tumor formation results from new acquisition of protein-truncating mutations in Apc. In contrast to polyketide synthase-positive Escherichia coli (pks+ E. coli), ETBF does not produce a unique mutational signature; instead, ETBF-induced tumors arise from errors in DNA mismatch repair and homologous recombination DNA damage repair, established pathways of tumor formation in the colon, and the same genetic mechanism accounting for sham tumors in these mouse models. Our analysis informs how this procarcinogenic bacterium may promote tumor formation in individuals with inherited predispositions to CRC, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). IMPORTANCE Many studies have shown that microbiome composition in both the mucosa and the stool differs in individuals with sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancer (CRC). Both human and mouse models have established a strong association between particular microbes and colon tumor induction. However, the genetic mechanisms underlying putative microbe-induced colon tumor formation are not well established. In this paper, we applied whole-exome sequencing and whole-genome sequencing to investigate the impact of ETBF-induced genetic changes on tumor formation. Additionally, we performed whole-genome sequencing of human colon organoids exposed to ETBF to validate the mutational patterns seen in our mouse models and begin to understand their relevance in human colon epithelial cells. The results of this study highlight the importance of ETBF colonization in the development of sporadic CRC and in individuals with hereditary tumor conditions, such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0105522
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2022


  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli/genetics
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections/pathology
  • Bacteroides fragilis/genetics
  • Colon/microbiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms/genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/microbiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis/genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Escherichia coli/genetics
  • Genes, APC
  • Mice
  • Mutation


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