The genetic characteristics of rectal neuroendocrine tumors (R-NETs) were poorly understood. Depicting the genetic characteristics may provide a biological basis for prognosis prediction and novel treatment development. Tissues of 18 R-NET patients were analyzed using whole-exome sequencing. The median tumor mutation burden (TMB) and microsatellite instability (MSI) were 1.15 Muts/MB (range, 0.03-23.28) and 0.36 (range, 0.00-10.97) respectively. Genes involved in P53 signaling, PI3K-AKT signaling, DNA damage repair, WNT signaling, etc. were frequently altered. Higher TMB (P = 0.078), higher CNV (P = 0.110), somatic mutation of CCDC168 (P = 0.049), HMCN1 (P = 0.040), MYO10 (P = 0.007), and amplification of ZC3H13 (P < 0.001) were associated with shorter OS. Potentially targetable gene alterations (PTGAs) were seen in 72% of the patients. FGFR1 amplification (22%) was the most common PTGA followed by BARD1 and BRCA2 mutation (each 17%). As for gene variations associated with the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), FAT1 alteration (39%) and PTEN depletion (28%) were commonly observed. In conclusion, frequently altered oncogenic pathways might contribute to the development and progression of R-NETs. Gene alterations significantly associated with prognosis might be potential novel targets. Targeted therapy might be a promising strategy as targetable alterations were prevalent in R-NETs. FAT1 alteration and PTEN depletion might be the main genetic alterations influencing the response to ICB besides overall low TMB and MSI in R-NETs.
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