The human DNA mismatch repair (MMR) process is crucial to maintain the integrity of the genome and requires many different proteins which interact perfectly and coordinated. Germline mutations in MMR genes are responsible for the development of the hereditary form of colorectal cancer called Lynch syndrome. Various mutations mainly in two MMR proteins, MLH1 and MSH2, have been identified so far, whereas 55% are detected within MLH1, the essential component of the heterodimer MutLα (MLH1 and PMS2). Most of those MLH1 variants are pathogenic but the relevance of missense mutations often remains unclear. Many different recombinant systems are applied to filter out disease-associated proteins whereby fluorescent tagged proteins are frequently used. However, dye labeling might have deleterious effects on MutLα's functionality. Therefore, we analyzed the consequences of N- and C-terminal fluorescent labeling on expression level, cellular localization and MMR activity of MutLα. Besides significant influence of GFP- or Red-fusion on protein expression we detected incorrect shuttling of single expressed C-terminal GFP-tagged PMS2 into the nucleus and found that C-terminal dye labeling impaired MMR function of MutLα. In contrast, N-terminal tagged MutLαs retained correct functionality and can be recommended both for the analysis of cellular localization and MMR efficiency.
Germline mutations in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes MSH2 and MLH1 are responsible for the majority of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), an autosomal-dominant early-onset cancer syndrome. Genetic testing of both MSH2 and MLH1 from individuals suspected of HNPCC has revealed a considerable number of missense codons, which are difficult to classify as either pathogenic mutations or silent polymorphisms. To identify novel MLH1 missense codons that impair MMR activity, a prospective genetic screen in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was developed. The screen utilized hybrid human-yeast MLH1 genes that encode proteins having regions of the yeast ATPase domain replaced by homologous regions from the human protein. These hybrid MLH1 proteins are functional in MMR in vivo in yeast. Mutagenized MLH1 fragments of the human coding region were synthesized by error-prone PCR and cloned directly in yeast by in vivo gap repair. The resulting yeast colonies, which constitute a library of hybrid MLH1 gene variants, were initially screened by semi-quantitative in vivo MMR assays. The hybrid MLH1 genes were recovered from yeast clones that exhibited a MMR defect and sequenced to identify alterations in the mutagenized region. This investigation identified 117 missense codons that conferred a 2-fold or greater decreased efficiency of MMR in subsequent quantitative MMR assays. Notably, 10 of the identified missense codons were equivalent to codon changes previously observed in the human population and implicated in HNPCC. To investigate the effect of all possible codon alterations at single residues, a comprehensive mutational analysis of human MLH1 codons 43 (lysine-43) and 44 (serine-44) was performed. Several amino acid replacements at each residue were silent, but the majority of substitutions at lysine-43 (14/19) and serine-44 (18/19) reduced the efficiency of MMR. The assembled data identifies amino acid substitutions that disrupt MLH1 structure and/or function, and should assist the interpretation of MLH1 genetic tests.
Lynch syndrome is associated with germ-line mutations in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes, mainly MLH1 and MSH2. Most of the mutations reported in these genes to date are point mutations, small deletions, and insertions. Large genomic rearrangements in the MMR genes predisposing to Lynch syndrome also occur, but the frequency varies depending on the population studied on average from 5 to 20%. The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of large rearrangements in the MLH1 and MSH2 genes in a well-characterised series of 63 unrelated Southern Italian Lynch syndrome patients who were negative for pathogenic point mutations in the MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 genes. We identified a large novel deletion in the MSH2 gene, including exon 6 in one of the patients analysed (1.6% frequency). This deletion was confirmed and localised by long-range PCR. The breakpoints of this rearrangement were characterised by sequencing. Further analysis of the breakpoints revealed that this rearrangement was a product of Alu-mediated recombination. Our findings identified a novel Alu-mediated rearrangement within MSH2 gene and showed that large deletions or duplications in MLH1 and MSH2 genes are low-frequency mutational events in Southern Italian patients with an inherited predisposition to colon cancer.
An accurate algorithm is essential for effective molecular diagnosis of hereditary colorectal cancer. Here we have extended the analysis of 71 colorectal cancer cases suspected to be Lynch Syndrome cases for MSH2, MLH1, MSH6 and PMS2 gene defects. All cases were screened for mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 and all cases where tumors were available were screened for microsatellite instability and expression of MSH2 and MLH1. Subsequently, mutation negative cases were screened for MLH1 methylation and mutations in PMS2. Of the MSI-H cases, 96% had a mismatch repair gene defect, mostly involving MSH2 or MLH1; 1 PMS2 mutation, 1 MLH1 epimutation, and no MSH6 mutations were found. Four of the 28 MSI-H cases, including 1 Amsterdam criteria case, had biallelic tumor MLH1 methylation indicating that sporadic cases can be admixed in with Lynch Syndrome cases even those meeting the strongest criteria for Lynch Syndrome. Mismatch repair gene defects were found in similar frequency in cases where tumors were and were not available. One MLH1 and 1 MSH2 deletion mutation were found in MSI-S/L cases indicating that microsatellite instability testing can exclude cases with pathogenic mutations. Our analysis support a diagnostic algorithm where cases are selected for analysis based on clinical criteria or prediction models; isolated sporadic young-onset cases can be pre-screened by tumor testing whereas familial cases may be directly subjected to molecular analysis for mutations in mismatch repair genes followed by microsatellite instability, protein expression and DNA methylation analysis to aid in the resolution of mutation negative cases.
Germline mutations in the mismatch repair (MMR) genes are associated with Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) syndrome. Here, we characterise a variant of hMLH1 that confers a loss-of-function MMR phenotype. The mutation changes the highly conserved Gly67 residue to a glutamate (G67E) and is reminiscent of the hMLH1-p.Gly67Arg mutation, which is present in several Lynch syndrome cohorts. hMLH1-Gly67Arg has previously been shown to confer loss-of-function (Shimodaira et al, 1998), and two functional assays suggest that the hMLH1-Gly67Glu protein fails to sustain normal MMR functions. In the first assay, hMLH1-Gly67Glu abolishes the protein's ability to interfere with MMR in yeast. In the second assay, mutation of the analogous residue in yMLH1 (yMLH1-Gly64Glu) causes a loss-of-function mutator phenotype similar to yMLH1-Gly64Arg. Despite these molecular similarities, an unusual spectrum of tumours is associated with hMLH1-Gly67Glu, which is not typical of those associated with Lynch syndrome and differs from those found in families carrying the hMLH1-Gly67Arg allele. This suggests that hMLH1 may have different functions in certain tissues and/or that additional factors may modify the influence of hMLH1 mutations in causing Lynch syndrome.
G67E; HNPCC; hMLH1; breast; prostate
Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is characterised by a genetic predisposition to develop colorectal cancer at an early age and, to a lesser degree, cancer of the endometrium, ovaries, urinary tract, and organs of the gastrointestinal tract other than the colon. In the majority of families the disease is linked to mutations in one of the two mismatch repair genes, hMSH2 or hMLH1. We have found a novel hMLH1 nonsense mutation in a Swiss family with Lynch syndrome, which has been transmitted through at least nine generations. A different tumour spectrum of neoplasms of the skin, soft palate, breast, duodenum, and pancreas was observed in three branches of this family, where there was a virtual absence of colonic tumours. The hMLH1 mutation could not be detected in members of these branches suggesting that at least a second genetic defect predisposing to cancer is segregating in part of the kindred.
Germline mutations in the DNA mismatch repair genes predispose to Lynch syndrome, thus conferring a high relative risk of colorectal and endometrial cancer. The MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6 mutational spectrum reported so far involves minor alterations scattered throughout their coding regions as well as large genomic rearrangements. Therefore, a combination of complete sequencing and a specialized technique for the detection of genomic rearrangements should be conducted during a proper DNA-testing procedure. Our main goal was to successfully identify Lynch syndrome families and determine the spectrum of MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6 mutations in Greek Lynch families in order to develop an efficient screening protocol for the Greek colorectal cancer patients' cohort.
Forty-two samples from twenty-four families, out of which twenty two of Greek, one of Cypriot and one of Serbian origin, were screened for the presence of germline mutations in the major mismatch repair genes through direct sequencing and MLPA. Families were selected upon Amsterdam criteria or revised Bethesda guidelines.
Ten deleterious alterations were detected in twelve out of the twenty-four families subjected to genetic testing, thus our detection rate is 50%. Four of the pathogenic point mutations, namely two nonsense, one missense and one splice site change, are novel, whereas the detected genomic deletion encompassing exon 6 of the MLH1 gene has been described repeatedly in the LOVD database. The average age of onset for the development of both colorectal and endometrial cancer among mutation positive families is 43.2 years.
The mutational spectrum of the MMR genes investigated as it has been shaped by our analysis is quite heterogeneous without any strong indication for the presence of a founder effect.
The yeast Mlh1–Pms1 heterodimer required for mismatch repair (MMR) binds to DNA. Here we map DNA binding to N-terminal fragments of Mlh1 and Pms1. We demonstrate that Mlh1 and Pms1 N-terminal domains (NTDs) independently bind to double-stranded and single-stranded DNA, in the absence of dimerization and with different affinities. Full-length Mlh1p alone, which can homodimerize, also binds to DNA. Substituting conserved positively charged amino acids in Mlh1 produces mutator phenotypes in a haploid yeast strain characteristic of reduced MMR. These substitutions strongly reduce DNA binding by the Mlh1 NTD and, to a lesser extent, they also reduce DNA binding by full-length Mlh1 and the Mlh1–Pms1 heterodimer. Replacement of a homologous Pms1 residue has a much smaller effect on mutation rate and does not reduce DNA binding. The results demonstrate that NTDs of yeast Mlh1 and Pms1 contain independent DNA binding sites and they suggest that the C-terminal region of Mlh1p may also contribute to DNA binding. The differential mutator effects and binding properties observed here further suggest that Mlh1 and Pms1 differ in their interactions with DNA. Finally, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that DNA binding by Mlh1 is important for MMR.
MutLα, a heterodimer of MLH1 and PMS2, plays a central role in human DNA mismatch repair. It interacts ATP-dependently with the mismatch detector MutSα and assembles and controls further repair enzymes. We tested if the interaction of MutLα with DNA-bound MutSα is impaired by cancer-associated mutations in MLH1, and identified one mutation (Ala128Pro) which abolished interaction as well as mismatch repair activity. Further examinations revealed three more residues whose mutation interfered with interaction. Homology modelling of MLH1 showed that all residues clustered in a small accessible surface patch, suggesting that the major interaction interface of MutLα for MutSα is located on the edge of an extensive β-sheet that backs the MLH1 ATP binding pocket. Bioinformatic analysis confirmed that this patch corresponds to a conserved potential protein–protein interaction interface which is present in both human MLH1 and its E.coli homologue MutL. MutL could be site-specifically crosslinked to MutS from this patch, confirming that the bacterial MutL–MutS complex is established by the corresponding interface in MutL. This is the first study that identifies the conserved major MutLα–MutSα interaction interface in MLH1 and demonstrates that mutations in this interface can affect interaction and mismatch repair, and thereby can also contribute to cancer development.
Immunohistochemistry for mismatch repair proteins has shown utility in the identification of Lynch syndrome, but majority of tumours with loss MLH1 expression are due to sporadic hypermethylation of the MLH1 promoter. These tumours can also show epigenetic silencing of other genes, such as p16. The aim of our study is to evaluate the utility of p16 immunohistochemistry in the prediction of MLH1 germline mutations.
p16 immunohistochemistry was appropriately evaluated in 79 colorectal cancers with loss of MLH1 expression. Methylation of MLH1 and p16 were quantitatively studied using real time PCR assay Methylight. BRAF V600E mutation in tumour tissue was also investigated. Genetic testing for germline mutation of MLH1 was made on 52 patients.
Loss of p16 expression was seen in 21 out of 79 samples (26,6%). There was found statistically significant association between p16 expression and p16 methylation (p<0.001), MLH1 methylation (p<0.001) and BRAF mutation (p<0.005). All tumours with loss of p16 expression showed hypermethylation of p16 (21/21), 95.2% (20/21) showed MLH1 methylation and 71.4% (15/21) were mutated for BRAF V600E Mutational analysis showed pathogenic germline mutations in 8 of the patients, harbouring 10 tumours. All 10 of these tumours showed normal staining of p16 in the immunochemical analysis.
p16 immunohistochemistry is a good surrogate marker for p16 and MLH1 epigenetic silencing due to hypermethylation, and is useful as screening tool in the selection of patients for genetic testing in Lynch syndrome.
colorectal cancer; Lynch syndrome; p16; immunohistochemistry; diagnosis
Lynch syndrome (clinically referred to as HNPCC – Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer) is a frequent, autosomal, dominantly-inherited cancer predisposition syndrome caused by various germline alterations that affect DNA mismatch repair genes, mainly MLH1 and MSH2. Patients inheriting this predisposition are susceptible to colorectal, endometrial and other extracolonic tumors. It has recently been shown that germline deletions of the last few exons of the EPCAM gene are involved in the etiology of Lynch syndrome. Such constitutional mutations lead to subsequent epigenetic silencing of a neighbouring gene, here, MSH2, causing Lynch syndrome. Thus, deletions of the last few exons of EPCAM constitute a distinct class of mutations associated with HNPCC. Worldwide, several investigators have reported families with EPCAM 3’end deletions. The risk of colorectal cancer in carriers of EPCAM deletions is comparable to situations when patients are MSH2 mutation carriers, and is associated with high expression levels of EPCAM in colorectal cancer stem cells. A lower risk of endometrial cancer was also reported. Until now the standard diagnostic tests for Lynch syndrome have contained analyses such as immunohistochemistry and tests for microsatellite instability of mismatch repair genes. The identification of EPCAM deletions or larger EPCAM-MSH2 deletions should be included in routine mutation screening, as this has implications for cancer predisposition.
Lynch syndrome; EPCAM gene; Colon cancer; MSH2 hypermethylation
The analytical algorithm of Lynch syndrome (LS) is increasingly complex. BRAF V600E mutation and MLH1 promoter hypermethylation have been proposed as a screening tool for the identification of LS. The aim of this study was to assess the clinical usefulness and cost-effectiveness of both somatic alterations to improve the yield of the diagnostic algorithm of LS. A total of 122 colorectal tumors from individuals with family history of colorectal cancer that showed microsatellite instability and/or loss of mismatch repair (MMR) protein expression were studied. MMR germline mutations were detected in 57 cases (40 MLH1, 15 MSH2 and 2 MSH6). BRAF V600E mutation was assessed by single-nucleotide primer extension. MLH1 promoter hypermethylation was assessed by methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification in a subset of 71 cases with loss of MLH1 protein. A decision model was developed to estimate the incremental costs of alternative case-finding methods for detecting MLH1 mutation carriers. One-way sensitivity analysis was performed to assess robustness of estimations. Sensitivity of the absence of BRAF mutations for depiction of LS patients was 96% (23/24) and specificity was 28% (13/47). Specificity of MLH1 promoter hypermethylation for depiction of sporadic tumors was 66% (31/47) and sensitivity of 96% (23/24). The cost per additional mutation detected when using hypermethylation analysis was lower when compared with BRAF study and germinal MLH1 mutation study. Somatic hypermethylation of MLH1 is an accurate and cost-effective pre-screening method in the selection of patients that are candidates for MLH1 germline analysis when LS is suspected and MLH1 protein expression is absent.
Lyncg Syndrome; MLH1 promoter hypermethylation; BRAF V600E mutation; MS-MLPA; cost-effectiveness
There is an increasing understanding of the roles that microsatellite instability (MSI) plays in Lynch syndrome (by mutations) and sporadic (by mainly epigenetic changes) gastrointestinal (GI) and other cancers. Deficient DNA mismatch repair (MMR) results in the strong mutator phenotype known as MSI, which is the hallmark of cancers arising within Lynch syndrome. MSI is characterized by length alterations within simple repeated sequences called microsatellites. Lynch syndrome occurs primarily because of germline mutations in one of the MMR genes, mainly MLH1 or MSH2, less frequently MSH6, and rarely PMS2. MSI is also observed in about 15% of sporadic colorectal, gastric, and endometrial cancers and in lower frequencies in a minority of other cancers where it is often associated with the hypermethylation of the MLH1 gene. miRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level and are critical in many biological processes and cellular pathways. There is accumulating evidence to support the notion that the interrelationship between MSI and miRNA plays a key role in the pathogenesis of GI cancer. As a possible new mechanism underlying MSI, overexpression of miR-155 has been shown to downregulate expression of MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6. Thus, a subset of MSI-positive (MSI+) cancers without known MMR defects may result from miR-155 overexpression. Target genes of frameshift mutation for MSI are involved in various cellular functions, such as DNA repair, cell signaling, and apoptosis. A novel class of target genes that included not only epigenetic modifier genes, such as HDAC2, but also miRNA processing machinery genes, including TARBP2 and XPO5, were found to be mutated in MSI+ GI cancers. Thus, a subset of MSI+ colorectal cancers (CRCs) has been proposed to exhibit a mutated miRNA machinery phenotype. Genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic differences exist between MSI+ and MSI− cancers. Molecular signatures of miRNA expression apparently have the potential to distinguish between MSI+ and MSI− CRCs. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the MSI pathogenesis of GI cancer, with the focus on its relationship with miRNA as well as on the potential to use MSI and related alterations as biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets.
Microsatellite instability; MicroRNA; DNA mismatch repair; Frameshift mutation; MicroRNA processing
Mutations in the mismatch repair genes hMLH1 and hMSH2 predispose to hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Genetic screening of more than 350 Danish patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) has led to the identification of several new genetic variants (e.g. missense, silent and non-coding) in hMLH1 and hMSH2. The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency of these variants in hMLH1 and hMSH2 in Danish patients with sporadic colorectal cancer and in the healthy background population. The purpose was to reveal if any of the common variants lead to increased susceptibility to colorectal cancer.
Associations between genetic variants in hMLH1 and hMSH2 and sporadic colorectal cancer were evaluated using a case-cohort design. The genotyping was performed on DNA isolated from blood from the 380 cases with sporadic colorectal cancer and a sub-cohort of 770 individuals. The DNA samples were analyzed using Single Base Extension (SBE) Tag-arrays. A Bonferroni corrected Fisher exact test was used to test for association between the genotypes of each variant and colorectal cancer. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) was investigated using HaploView (v3.31).
Heterozygous and homozygous changes were detected in 13 of 35 analyzed variants. Two variants showed a borderline association with colorectal cancer, whereas the remaining variants demonstrated no association. Furthermore, the genomic regions covering hMLH1 and hMSH2 displayed high linkage disequilibrium in the Danish population. Twenty-two variants were neither detected in the cases with sporadic colorectal cancer nor in the sub-cohort. Some of these rare variants have been classified either as pathogenic mutations or as neutral variants in other populations and some are unclassified Danish variants.
None of the variants in hMLH1 and hMSH2 analyzed in the present study were highly associated with colorectal cancer in the Danish population. High linkage disequilibrium in the genomic regions covering hMLH1 and hMSH2, indicate that common genetic variants in the two genes in general are not involved in the development of sporadic colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, some of the rare unclassified variants in hMLH1 and hMSH2 might be involved in the development of colorectal cancer in the families where they were originally identified.
Background & Aims
Approximately half of the families that fulfill Amsterdam criteria for Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) do not have evidence of the germline mismatch repair (MMR) gene mutations that define this syndrome and result in microsatellite instability. The carcinogenic pathways and the best diagnostic approaches to detect microsatellite stable (MSS) HNPCC tumors are unclear. We investigated the contribution of epigenetic alterations to development of MSS HNPCC tumors.
Colorectal cancers were divided in four groups: 1. Microsatellite stable, Amsterdam positive (MSS HNPCC) (N=22); 2. Lynch syndrome cancers (identified mismatch repair mutations) (N=21); 3. Sporadic MSS (N=92); 4. Sporadic MSI (N=46). Methylation status was evaluated for CACNAG1, SOCS1, RUNX3, NEUROG1, MLH1, and LINE-1. KRAS and BRAF mutations status was analyzed.
MSS HNPCC tumors displayed a significantly lower degree of LINE-1 methylation, marker for global methylation, than any other group. Whereas most MSS HNPCC tumors had some degree of CpG island methylation, none presented a high index of methylation. MSS HNPCC tumors had KRAS mutations exclusively in codon 12, but none harbored V600E BRAF mutations.
Tumors from Amsterdam-positive patients without mismatch repair deficiency (MSS HNPCC) have certain molecular features, including global hypomethylation that distinguish them from all other colorectal cancers. These characteristics could have an important impact on tumor behavior or treatment response. Studies are underway to further assess the cause and effects of these features.
Colorectal cancer; Microsatellite stable Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer; Non-Lynch HNPCC; DNA Methylation; hypomethylation
Hereditary ovarian cancer accounts for at least 5% of the estimated 22,000 new cases of this disease during 2009. During this same time, over 15,000 will die from malignancy ascribed to ovarian origin. The bulk of these hereditary cases fit the hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, while virtually all of the remainder will be consonant with the Lynch syndrome, disorders which are autosomal dominantly inherited. Advances in molecular genetics have led to the identification of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations which predispose to the hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, and mutations in mismatch repair genes, the most common of which are MSH2 and MLH1, which predispose to Lynch syndrome. These discoveries enable relative certainty limited only by their variable penetrance, so that early diagnosis through a comprehensive cancer family history might be possible. This paper reviews the subject of hereditary ovarian cancer, with particular attention given to its molecular genetic basis, its pathology, and its phenotypic/genotypic heterogeneity.
Loss of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) in humans, mainly due to mutations in the hMLH1 gene, is linked to hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Because not all MLH1 alterations result in loss of MMR function, accurate characterization of variants and their classification in terms of their effect on MMR function is essential for reliable genetic testing and effective treatment. To date, in vivo assays for functional characterization of MLH1 mutations performed in various model systems have used episomal expression of the modified MMR genes. We describe here a novel approach to determine accurately the functional significance of hMLH1 mutations in vivo, based on co-expression of human MLH1 and PMS2 in yeast cells.
Yeast MLH1 and PMS1 genes, whose protein products form the MutLα complex, were replaced by human orthologs directly on yeast chromosomes by homologous recombination, and the resulting MMR activity was tested.
The yeast strain co-expressing hMLH1 and hPMS2 exhibited the same mutation rate as the wild-type. Eight cancer-related MLH1 variants were introduced, using the same approach, into the prepared yeast model, and their effect on MMR function was determined. Five variants (A92P, S93G, I219V, K618R and K618T) were classified as non-pathogenic, whereas variants T117M, Y646C and R659Q were characterized as pathogenic.
Results of our in vivo yeast-based approach correlate well with clinical data in five out of seven hMLH1 variants and the described model was thus shown to be useful for functional characterization of MLH1 variants in cancer patients found throughout the entire coding region of the gene.
Lynch syndrome is an autosomal dominant cancer predisposition syndrome classically caused by germline mutations of the mismatch repair genes, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2. Constitutional epimutations of the MLH1 gene, characterized by soma-wide methylation of a single allele of the promoter and allelic transcriptional silencing, have been identified in a subset of Lynch syndrome cases lacking a sequence mutation in MLH1. We report two individuals with no family history of colorectal cancer who developed that disease at age 18 and 20 years. In both cases, cancer had arisen because of the de novo occurrence of a constitutional MLH1 epimutation and somatic loss-of-heterozygosity of the functional allele in the tumors. We show for the first time that the epimutation in one case arose on the paternally inherited allele. Analysis of 13 tumors from seven individuals with constitutional MLH1 epimutations showed eight tumors had lost the second MLH1 allele, two tumors had a novel pathogenic missense mutation and three had retained heterozygosity. Only 1 of 12 tumors demonstrated the BRAF V600E mutation and 3 of 11 tumors harbored a mutation in KRAS. The finding that epimutations can originate on the paternal allele provides important new insights into the mechanism of origin of epimutations. It is clear that the second hit in MLH1 epimutation-associated tumors typically has a genetic not epigenetic basis. Individuals with mismatch repair–deficient cancers without the BRAF V600E mutation are candidates for germline screening for sequence or methylation changes in MLH1.
colorectal cancer; Lynch syndrome; MLH1 epimutation; microsatellite instability; BRAF
Lynch syndrome is a hereditary cancer syndrome that increases the risks of colorectal and gynecologic malignancies such as endometrial and ovarian cancer. Studies have shown that mutations in mismatch repair genes (MSH2, MSH6, and MLH1) are associated with Lynch syndrome. The aim of our study was to estimate the value of MSH2, MSH6, and MLH1 immunohistochemistry based on family history in a Korean sample.
Thirty six women with synchronous gynecologic tumors of endometrial and ovarian cancer were identified among patients being treated at our institution. Among them, 32 patients had tumor blocks (total 62 slides) available for analysis. According to a diagnostic algorithm, we performed immunohistochemistry analyses. Staining was scored based on intensity and proportion (negative or 0: intensity undetectable or minimal, proportion <5%; weak or 1+: intensity mild, proportion 5-30%; strong or 2+: intensity moderate to marked, proportion 30-99%).
Among 32 eligible patients, 9 (28%) had a family history of cancer. Six patients (19%) were negative for MLH1; among them, four (4/6) were negative at both sites. Nine patients (28%) were negative for MSH2 or MSH6 at both sites or negative for both MSH2 and MSH6. Among these three patients showed negative staining for both sites. The three patients showing negative staining for MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 at both sites with family history were considered to be the screening positive groups of Lynch syndrome.
In this study, the frequency of Lynch syndrome associated immunohistochemical staining (MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6) group was estimated as 9% (3/32) among Korean women with synchronous gynecologic tumors.
Lynch syndrome; Synchronous gynecologic tumor
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in females and the third most common cancer diagnosed in males. Familial CRC comprises ~20 to 30% of all CRC cases. Lynch syndrome (LS), previously called hereditary nonpolyposis CRC (HNPCC), is the most common of the hereditary CRC syndromes. In this review, the oncological management of hereditary colorectal cancer from the medical oncologist perspective is discussed with special emphasis on Lynch syndrome. Lynch syndrome is characterized by the presence of germline mutations in the mismatch repair genes (MMR)-MSH2, MLH1, MSH6, and PMS2. The available data regarding the prognostic role of mismatch repair genes (MMR), the predictive role of MMR genes, and the implications of that in the management of patients with deficient MMR genes (dMMR/MSI-H) tumors including Lynch syndrome patients are also discussed.
hereditary colorectal cancer; Lynch syndrome; microsatellite instability; chemotherapy
The hypoxic tumor microenvironment has been shown to contribute to genetic instability. As one possible mechanism for this effect, we report that expression of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) gene Mlh1 is specifically reduced in mammalian cells under hypoxia, whereas expression of other MMR genes, including Msh2, Msh6, and Pms2, is not altered at the mRNA level. However, levels of the PMS2 protein are reduced, consistent with destabilization of PMS2 in the absence of its heterodimer partner, MLH1. The hypoxia-induced reduction in Mlh1 mRNA was prevented by the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A, suggesting that hypoxia causes decreased Mlh1 transcription via histone deacetylation. In addition, treatment of cells with the iron chelator desferrioxamine also reduced MLH1 and PMS2 levels, in keeping with low oxygen tension being the stress signal that provokes the altered MMR gene expression. Functional MMR deficiency under hypoxia was detected as induced instability of a (CA)29 dinucleotide repeat and by increased mutagenesis in a chromosomal reporter gene. These results identify a potential new pathway of genetic instability in cancer: hypoxia-induced reduction in the expression of key MMR proteins. In addition, this stress-induced genetic instability may represent a conceptual parallel to the pathway of stationary-phase mutagenesis seen in bacteria.
Colorectal, endometrial and upper urinary tract tumours are characteristic for Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon carcinoma, HNPCC). The aim of the present study was to establish whether carriers of mutations in mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2 or MSH6 are at increased risk of urinary bladder cancer.
Carriers and first degree relatives of 95 families with a germline mutation in the MLH1 (n=26), MSH2 (n=43), or MSH6 (n=26) gene were systematically questioned about the occurrence of carcinoma. The cumulative risk of cancer occurring before the age of 70 years (CR70) was compared to the CR70 of the general Dutch population. Microsatellite instability (MSI) testing and/or immunohistochemistry (IHC) for mismatch repair proteins was performed on bladder tumour tissue.
Bladder cancer was diagnosed in 21 patients (90% men) from 19 Lynch syndrome families (2 MLH1, 15 MSH2, and 4 MSH6). CR70 for bladder cancer was 7.5% (95% CI 3.1% to 11.9%) for men and 1.0% (95% CI 0% to 2.4%) for women, resulting in relative risks for mutation carriers and first degree relatives of 4.2 (95% CI 2.2 to 7.2) for men and 2.2 (95% CI 0.3 to 8.0) for women. Men carrying an MSH2 mutation and their first degree relatives were at highest risks: CR70 for bladder and upper urinary tract cancer being 12.3% (95% CI 4.3% to 20.3%) and 5.9% (95% CI 0.7% to 11.1%). Bladder cancer tissue was MSI positive in 6/7 tumours and loss of IHC staining was found in 14/17 tumours, indicating Lynch syndrome aetiology.
Patients with Lynch syndrome carrying an MSH2 mutation are at increased risk of urinary tract cancer including bladder cancer. In these cases surveillance should be considered.
Lynch syndrome; HNPCC; urothelial cancer; bladder cancer; MSI; gastroenterology; clinical genetics; genetic screening/counselling; cancer: urological
A broad population-based assay to detect individuals with Lynch Syndrome (LS) before they develop cancer would save lives and healthcare dollars via cancer prevention. LS is caused by a germline mutation in a DNA mismatch repair (MMR) gene, especially protein truncation-causing mutations involving MSH2 or MLH1. We showed that immortalized lymphocytes from LS patients have reduced levels of full-length MLH1 or MSH2 proteins. Thus, it may be feasible to identify LS patients in a broad population-based assay by detecting reduced levels of MMR proteins in lymphocytes.
Accordingly, we determined whether MSH2 and MLH1 proteins can also be detected in fresh lymphocytes. A quantitative western blot assay was developed using two commercially available monoclonal antibodies that we showed are specific for detecting full-length MLH1 or MSH2. To directly determine the ratio of the levels of these MMR proteins, we used both antibodies in a multiplex-type western blot.
MLH1 and MSH2 levels were often not detectable in fresh lymphocytes, but were readily detectable if fresh lymphocytes were first stimulated with PHA. In fresh lymphocytes from normal controls, the MMR ratio was ~1.0. In fresh lymphocytes from patients (N > 50) at elevated risk for LS, there was a bimodal distribution of MMR ratios (range: 0.3-1.0).
Finding that MMR protein levels can be measured in fresh lymphocytes, and given that cells with heterozygote MMR mutations have reduced levels of full-length MMR proteins, suggests that our immunoassay could be advanced to a quantitative test for screening populations at high risk for LS.
Lynch Syndrome; Hereditary Cancer; MMR proteins; HNPCC; MLH1; MSH2; Lymphocytes; PHA treatment; Western blotting; Cell Culture
The cancer risk is unknown for those families in which a microsatellite instable tumour is neither explained by MLH1 promoter methylation nor by a germline mutation in a mismatch repair (MMR) gene. Such information is essential for genetic counselling. Families suspected of Lynch syndrome (n=614) were analysed for microsatellite instability, MLH1 promoter methylation and/or germline mutations in MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2. Characteristics of the 76 families with a germline mutation (24 MLH1, 2 PMS2, 32 MSH2, and 18 MSH6) were compared with those of 18 families with an unexplained microsatellite instable tumour. The mean age at diagnosis of the index patients in both groups was comparable at 44 years. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the loss of an MMR protein. Together this suggests germline inactivation of a known gene. The Amsterdam II criteria were fulfilled in 50/75 families (66%) that carried a germline mutation in an MMR gene and in only 2/18 families (11%) with an unexplained microsatellite instable tumour (P<0.0001). Current diagnostic strategies can detect almost all highly penetrant MMR gene mutations. Patients with an as yet unexplained microsatellite instable tumour likely carry a different type of mutation that confers a lower risk of cancer for relatives.
colorectal neoplasms; hereditary nonpolyposis; microsatellite instability; DNA mismatch repair; DNA methylation
Methylation of the MLH1 gene promoter region is an underlying cause of colorectal cancer (CRC) with high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) diagnosed in persons without a germline mutation in a mismatch repair (MMR) gene (non-Lynch Syndrome CRC). It is unclear whether relatives of CRC cases with MLH1 methylation have an increased risk of colorectal or other cancers. In this retrospective cohort study, we assessed risk of CRC and other cancers for the first- and second-degree relatives of CRC cases with a methylated MLH1 gene, by comparing observed numbers of cases with those expected based on age- sex- and country-specific cancer incidences (standardized incidence ratios – SIRs). The cohort consisted of 3128 first- and second-degree relatives of the 233 MLH1-methylated CRC cases with no MMR or MUTYH gene mutations. The SIR for CRC was 1.60 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.22-2.16) for first-degree relatives (FDR) and 1.08 (0.74-1.60) for second-degree relatives (SDR). The SIR for gastric cancer was 2.58 (1.52-4.71) for FDR and 4.52 (2.23-10.61) for SDR and for ovarian cancer it was 2.16 (1.29-3.86) for FDR. The risk of liver cancer was also increased significantly in FDR but the estimate was based on only two cases. These data imply that relatives of CRC cases with MLH1 methylation may be at increased risk of CRC and stomach cancer and possibly ovarian and liver cancer, suggesting that there may be a heritable factor for CRC and other cancers associated with MLH1 methylation in non-Lynch Syndrome CRC’s.
Colorectal cancer; microsatellite instability; MLH1 methylation; family cancer; history; gastric cancer; liver cancer; ovarian cancer