Locally recurrent rectal cancer (LRRC) leads to a poor prognosis and appears as a clinically predominant pattern of failure. In this research, whole-exome sequencing (WES) was performed on 21 samples from 8 patients to search for the molecular mechanisms of LRRC. The data was analyzed by bioinformatics. Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA) and Human Protein Atlas (HPA) were performed to validate the candidate genes. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the protein expression of LEF1 and CyclinD1 in LRRC, primary rectal cancer (PRC), and non-recurrent rectal cancer (NRRC) specimens. The results showed that LRRC, PRC, and NRRC had 668, 794, and 190 specific genes, respectively.

FGFR1 and MYC have copy number variants (CNVs) in PRC and LRRC, respectively. LRRC specific genes were mainly enriched in positive regulation of transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter, plasma membrane, and ATP binding. The specific signaling pathways of LRRC were Wnt signaling pathway, gap junction, and glucagon signaling pathway, etc. The transcriptional and translational expression levels of genes including NFATC1, PRICKLE1, SOX17, and WNT6 related to Wnt signaling pathway were higher in rectal cancer (READ) tissues than normal rectal tissues. The PRICKLE1 mutation (c.C875T) and WNT6 mutation (c.G629A) were predicted as “D (deleterious)”. Expression levels of LEF1 and cytokinin D1 proteins: LRRC > PRC > NRRC > normal rectal tissue. Gene variants in the Wnt signaling pathway may be critical for the development of LRRC. The present study may provide a basis for the prediction of LRRC and the development of new therapeutic drugs.