We assessed mismatch repair by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and microsatellite instability (MSI) analysis in an early onset endometrial cancer and a sister’s colon cancer. We demonstrated high-level MSI and normal expression for MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6. PMS2 failed to stain in both tumors, strongly implicating a PMS2 defect. This family did not meet clinical criteria for Lynch syndrome. However, early onset endometrial cancers in the proband and her sister, a metachronous colorectal cancer in the sister as well as MSI in endometrial and colonic tumors suggested a heritable mismatch repair defect. PCR-based direct exonic sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) were undertaken to search for PMS2 mutations in the germline DNA from the proband and her sister. No mutation was identified in the PMS2 gene. However, PMS2 exons 3, 4, 13, 14, 15 were not evaluated by MLPA and as such, rearrangements involving those exons cannot be excluded. Clinical testing for MLH1 and MSH2 mutation revealed a germline deletion of MLH1 exons 14 and 15. This MLH1 germline deletion leads to an immunodetectable stable C-terminal truncated MLH1 protein which based on the IHC staining must abrogate PMS2 stabilization. To the best of our knowledge, loss of PMS2 in MLH1 truncating mutation carriers that express MLH1 in their tumors has not been previously reported. This family points to a potential limitation of IHC-directed gene testing for suspected Lynch syndrome and the need to consider comprehensive MLH1 testing for individuals whose tumors lack PMS2 but for whom PMS2 mutations are not identified.
Keywords: Lynch syndrome, Testing, Microsatellite instability, Immunohistochemistry, Mismatch repair genes, MLH1, PMS2