Recent genome-wide association studies have identified multiple regions at 8q24 that confer susceptibility to many cancers. In our previous work, we showed that the colorectal cancer (CRC) risk variant rs6983267 at 8q24 resides within a TCF4 binding site at the MYC-335 enhancer, with the risk allele G having a stronger binding capacity and Wnt responsiveness. Here, we searched for other potential functional variants within MYC-335. Genetic variation within MYC-335 was determined in samples from individuals of European, African, and Asian descent, with emphasis on variants in putative transcription factor binding sites. A 2-bp GA deletion rs67491583 was found to affect a growth factor independent (GFI) binding site and was present only in individuals with African ancestry. Chromatin immunoprecipitation performed in heterozygous cells showed that the GA deletion had an ability to reduce binding of the transcriptional repressors GFI1 and GFI1b. Screening of 1,027 African American colorectal cancer cases and 1,773 healthy controls did not reveal evidence for association (odds ratio: 1.17, 95% confidence interval: 0.97–1.41, P = 0.095). In this study, rs67491583 was identified as another functional variant in the CRC-associated enhancer MYC-335, but further studies are needed to establish the role of rs67491583 in the colorectal cancer predisposition of African Americans.
Enhancer; transcription factor; susceptibility variant; colorectal cancer; association
Lynch syndrome is the most common cause of inherited colorectal cancer, accounting for approximately 3% of all colorectal cancer cases in the United States. In 2009, an evidence-based review process conducted by the independent Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Working Group resulted in a recommendation to offer genetic testing for Lynch syndrome to all individuals with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer, with the intent of reducing morbidity and mortality in family members. To explore issues surrounding implementation of this recommendation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convened a multidisciplinary working group meeting in September 2010. This article reviews background information regarding screening for Lynch syndrome and summarizes existing clinical paradigms, potential implementation strategies, and conclusions which emerged from the meeting. It was recognized that widespread implementation will present substantial challenges, and additional data from pilot studies will be needed. However, evidence of feasibility and population health benefits and the advantages of considering a public health approach were acknowledged. Lynch syndrome can potentially serve as a model to facilitate the development and implementation of population-level programs for evidence-based genomic medicine applications involving follow-up testing of at-risk relatives. Such endeavors will require multilevel and multidisciplinary approaches building on collaborative public health and clinical partnerships.
colorectal cancer; genetic screening; genetic testing; HNPCC; Lynch syndrome
Mutations in the mismatch repair genes cause Lynch syndrome (LS), conferring high risk of colorectal, endometrial and some other cancers. After the same splice site mutation in the MLH1 gene (c.589-2A>G) had been observed in 4 ostensibly unrelated American families with typical LS cancers, its occurrence in comprehensive series of LS cases (Mayo Clinic, Germany and Italy) was determined. It occurred in 10 out of 995 LS mutation carriers (1.0%) diagnosed in the Mayo Clinic diagnostic laboratory. It did not occur among 1803 cases tested for MLH1 mutations by the German HNPCC consortium, while it occurred in 3 probands and an additional 5 family members diagnosed in Italy. In the U.S., the splice site mutation occurs on a large (~4.8 Mb) shared haplotype that also harbors the variant c.2146G>A which predicts a missense change in codon 716 referred to here as V716M. In Italy, it occurs on a different, shorter shared haplotype (~2.2 Mb) that does not carry V716M. The V716M variant was found to be present by itself in the U.S., German and Italian populations with individuals sharing a common haplotype of 280 kb, allowing us to calculate that the variant arose around 5600 years ago (225 generations; 95% confidence interval 183–272). The splice site mutation in America arose or was introduced some 450 years ago (18 generations; 95% confidence interval 14–23); it accounts for 1.0% all LS in the Unites States and can be readily screened for.
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2 protein expression and microsatellite instability (MSI) are well-established tools to screen for Lynch syndrome (LS). Although many cancer centers have adopted these tools as reflex LS screening after a colorectal cancer diagnosis, the standard of care has not been established, and no formal studies have described this practice in the United States. The purpose of this study was to describe prevalent practices regarding IHC/MSI reflex testing for LS in the United States and the subsequent follow-up of abnormal results.
Materials and Methods
A 12-item survey was developed after interdisciplinary expert input. A letter of invitation, survey, and online-survey option were sent to a contact at each cancer program. A modified Dillman strategy was used to maximize the response rate. The sample included 39 National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers (NCI-CCCs), 50 randomly selected American College of Surgeons–accredited Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Programs (COMPs), and 50 Community Hospital Cancer Programs (CHCPs).
The overall response rate was 50%. Seventy-one percent of NCI-CCCs, 36% of COMPs, and 15% of CHCPs were conducting reflex IHC/MSI for LS; 48% of the programs used IHC, 14% of the programs used MSI, and 38% of the programs used both IHC and MSI. One program used a presurgical information packet, four programs offered an opt-out option, and none of the programs required written consent.
Although most NCI-CCCs use reflex IHC/MSI to screen for LS, this practice is not well-adopted by community hospitals. These findings may indicate an emerging standard of care and diffusion from NCI-CCC to community cancer programs. Our findings also described an important trend away from requiring written patient consent for screening.
Background & Aims
Expression of the netrin-1 dependence receptor UNC5C is reduced in many colorectal tumors; mice with the UNC5C mutations have increased progression of intestinal tumors. We investigated whether specific variants in UNC5C increase risk for colorectal cancer (CRC).
We analyzed the sequence of UNC5C in blood samples from 1801 patients with CRC and 4152 controls from 3 cohorts (France, USA, and Finland). Almost all cases from France and the USA had familial CRC; of the Finnish cases, 92/984 were familial. We analyzed whether CRC segregates with the UNC5C variant A628K in 3 families with histories of CRC. We also performed haplotype analysis, to determine the origin of this variant.
Of 817 patients with familial CRC, 14 had 1 of 4 different, unreported missense variants in UNC5C. The variants p.Asp353Asn (encodes D353N), p.Arg603Cys (encodes R603C), and p.Gln630Glu (encodes Q630E) did not occur significantly more often in cases than controls. The variant p.Ala628Lys (A628K) was detected in 3 families in the French cohort (odds ratio [OR], 8.8; Wald’s 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.47–52.93; P=.03) and in 2 families the US cohort (OR, 1.9; P=.6), but was not detected in the Finnish cohort; UNC5C A628K segregated with CRC in families. Three families with A628K had a 109 kb identical haplotype that spanned most of UNC5C, indicating recent origin of this variant in Caucasians (14 generations; 95% CI, 6–36 generations). Transfection of HEK293T cells with UNC5C-A628K significantly reduced apoptosis compared to wild-type UNC5C, measured in an assay of active caspase-3.
Inherited mutations in UNC5C prevent apoptosis and increase risk for CRC.
Colon cancer; tumor suppression; tumorigenesis; neoplasm; UNC5H3
Lynch syndrome accounts for 2–5% of endometrial cancer cases. Lynch syndrome prediction models have not been evaluated among endometrial cancer cases.
Area under the receiver operating curve (AUC), sensitivity and specificity of PREMM1,2,6, MMRpredict, and MMRpro scores were assessed among 563 population-based and 129 clinic-based endometrial cancer cases.
A total of 14 (3%) population-based and 80 (62%) clinic-based subjects had pathogenic mutations. PREMM1,2,6, MMRpredict, and MMRpro were able to distinguish mutation carriers from noncarriers (AUC of 0.77, 0.76, and 0.77, respectively), among population-based cases. All three models had lower discrimination for the clinic-based cohort, with AUCs of 0.67, 0.64, and 0.54, respectively. Using a 5% cutoff, sensitivity and specificity were as follows: PREMM1,2,6, 93% and 5% among population-based cases and 99% and 2% among clinic-based cases; MMRpredict, 71% and 64% for the population-based cohort and 91% and 0% for the clinic-based cohort; and MMRpro, 57% and 85% among population-based cases and 95% and 10% among clinic-based cases.
Currently available prediction models have limited clinical utility in determining which patients with endometrial cancer should undergo genetic testing for Lynch syndrome. Immunohistochemical analysis and microsatellite instability testing may be the best currently available tools to screen for Lynch syndrome in endometrial cancer patients.
endometrial cancer; genetic screening; genetic testing; Lynch syndrome; prediction models
Tumors frequently exhibit loss of tumor suppressor genes or allelic gains of activated oncogenes. A significant proportion of cancer susceptibility loci in the mouse show somatic losses or gains consistent with the presence of a tumor susceptibility or resistance allele. Thus, allele-specific somatic gains or losses at loci may demarcate the presence of resistance or susceptibility alleles. The goal of this study was to determine if previously mapped susceptibility loci for colorectal cancer show evidence of allele-specific somatic events in colon tumors.
We performed quantitative genotyping of 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showing statistically significant association with colorectal cancer in published genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We genotyped 194 paired normal and colorectal tumor DNA samples and 296 paired validation samples to investigate these SNPs for allele-specific somatic gains and losses. We combined analysis of our data with published data for seven of these SNPs.
No statistically significant evidence for allele-specific somatic selection was observed for the tested polymorphisms in the discovery set. The rs6983267 variant, which has shown preferential loss of the non-risk T allele and relative gain of the risk G allele in previous studies, favored relative gain of the G allele in the combined discovery and validation samples (corrected p-value = 0.03). When we combined our data with published allele-specific imbalance data for this SNP, the G allele of rs6983267 showed statistically significant evidence of relative retention (p-value = 2.06×10−4).
Our results suggest that the majority of variants identified as colon cancer susceptibility alleles through GWAS do not exhibit somatic allele-specific imbalance in colon tumors. Our data confirm previously published results showing allele-specific imbalance for rs6983267. These results indicate that allele-specific imbalance of cancer susceptibility alleles may not be a common phenomenon in colon cancer.
Lynch syndrome is the most common cause of inherited colorectal and endometrial cancers yet it is under-recognized in clinical practice. The relative merits of screening for Lynch syndrome among healthy adults without cancer versus among adults with colorectal or endometrial cancer are discussed in this Perspectives article. Newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients are a much easier target population for screening and leads to more informative genetic test results, at a lower cost in most cases.
Lynch syndrome; population screening; genetic testing; mismatch repair genes
Microsatellite instability (MSI) is a clonal change in the number of repeated DNA nucleotide units in microsatellites. It arises in tumors with deficient mismatch repair due to the inactivation of one of the four mismatch repair genes: MSH2, MLH1, MSH6, and PMS2. In order to determine the MSI status of a tumor, microdissection and polymerase chain reaction–based detection strategies are required. For practical purposes, MSI is equivalent to the loss of staining by immunohistochemistry (IHC) of one of the mismatch repair genes since both signify an abnormality in mismatch repair. Of all colorectal cancers (CRCs), 15% to 20% display MSI or abnormal IHC (often referred to as microsatellite instability [MIN] pathway). The remaining 80% to 85% of CRCs are microsatellite stable but most are characterized by chromosomal instability (CIN pathway). Almost all Lynch syndrome tumors have MSI or abnormal IHC and they account for up to one third of all MIN CRCs (3% to 5% of all CRCs). The remaining MIN tumors are sporadic as a result of somatic inactivation of the MLH1 gene caused by methylation of its promoter. Thus, the presence of a MSI/IHC abnormality prompts further investigations to diagnose Lynch syndrome, whereas its absence excludes Lynch syndrome. We recommend screening all CRC tumors for IHC or MSI. MIN tumors have a more favorable outcome than CIN tumors, and fluorouracil-based adjuvant chemotherapy does not improve the outcome of stage II or stage III MIN tumors. More data are needed to determine how best to treat patients with stage II and stage III MIN CRCs.
Germline mutations in MSH6 account for 10%–20% of Lynch syndrome colorectal cancers caused by hereditary DNA mismatch repair gene mutations. Because there have been only a few studies of mutation carriers, their cancer risks are uncertain.
We identified 113 families of MSH6 mutation carriers from five countries that we ascertained through family cancer clinics and population-based cancer registries. Mutation status, sex, age, and histories of cancer, polypectomy, and hysterectomy were sought from 3104 of their relatives. Age-specific cumulative risks for carriers and hazard ratios (HRs) for cancer risks of carriers, compared with those of the general population of the same country, were estimated by use of a modified segregation analysis with appropriate conditioning depending on ascertainment.
For MSH6 mutation carriers, the estimated cumulative risks to ages 70 and 80 years, respectively, were as follows: for colorectal cancer, 22% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 14% to 32%) and 44% (95% CI = 28% to 62%) for men and 10% (95% CI = 5% to 17%) and 20% (95% CI = 11% to 35%) for women; for endometrial cancer, 26% (95% CI = 18% to 36%) and 44% (95% CI = 30% to 58%); and for any cancer associated with Lynch syndrome, 24% (95% CI = 16% to 37%) and 47% (95% CI = 32% to 66%) for men and 40% (95% CI = 32% to 52%) and 65% (95% CI = 53% to 78%) for women. Compared with incidence for the general population, MSH6 mutation carriers had an eightfold increased incidence of colorectal cancer (HR = 7.6, 95% CI = 5.4 to 10.8), which was independent of sex and age. Women who were MSH6 mutation carriers had a 26-fold increased incidence of endometrial cancer (HR = 25.5, 95% CI = 16.8 to 38.7) and a sixfold increased incidence of other cancers associated with Lynch syndrome (HR = 6.0, 95% CI = 3.4 to 10.7).
We have obtained precise and accurate estimates of both absolute and relative cancer risks for MSH6 mutation carriers.
Genetic; testing; Lynch syndrome; polyposis syndromes
The genetic component of colorectal cancer (CRC) predisposition has been only partially explained. We recently suggested that a subtle decrease in the expression of one allele of the TGFBR1 gene was a heritable quantitative trait predisposing to CRC. Here, we refined the measurements of allele-specific expression (ASE) of TGFBR1 in a population-based series of CRC patients and controls. Five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 3′-untranslated region of the gene were genotyped and used for ASE determination by pyrosequencing. After eliminating non-informative samples and samples with RNA of insufficient quality 109 cases and 125 controls were studied. Allelic ratios ranged between 0.74 and 1.69 without evidence of bimodality or cutoff points for ‘ASE’ versus ‘non-ASE’. Treating ASE as a continuous variable, cases had non-significantly different values than controls (P = 0.081 when comparing means by permutation test). However, cases had significantly higher ASE values when comparing medians by permutation test (P = 0.0027) and when using Wilcoxon test (P = 0.0094). We conclude that with the present-day technology, ASE differences between individuals and between cases and controls are too subtle to be used to assess CRC risk. More advanced technology is expected to resolve this issue as well as the low informativity caused by the limited heterozygosity of transcribed SNPs.
Lynch syndrome is a heritable, cancer susceptibility syndrome. This study aims to review current and emerging trends in the identification of Lynch syndrome in the endometrial cancer patient population.
We performed a comprehensive review of past and present screening algorithms for Lynch syndrome, including a review of the utility of both the Amsterdam criteria and Bethesda guidelines. Because non-colon cancers have historically not been the focus of Lynch syndrome research, current literature is ripe with questions regarding screening among this patient population. Low BMI, age less than 50, positive family history and pathologic features have all been identified as risk factors in endometrial cancer patients who might benefit from Lynch screening. Additionally, based on experience at our own institution we offer a feasible screening algorithm for these patients.
A comprehensive review of the data demonstrated that immunohistochemistry is becoming an efficient, inexpensive way to screen tumors at risk for mismatch repair deficiency. The sensitivity and specificity of immunohistochemistry for predicting Lynch syndrome approaches 100%. Ideally, prospective screening of all endometrial cancer patients with IHC is a feasible, cost-efficient way to detect Lynch in this patient population given the limitations of using personal/family history of malignancy as well as pathologic risk factors.
It is imperative that clinicians be mindful of the risk of Lynch syndrome in women with endometrial cancer. Given the opportunity for colon cancer screening and prevention strategies to be initiated, the identification of probands with endometrial cancer as a result of Lynch syndrome will lead to a reduction in morbidity and mortality for these patients and their families.
Lynch syndrome; Endometrial cancer; Screening
Hyperplastic polyposis is a colonic polyposis condition of unknown aetiology. The purpose of this study was to examine the spectrum of phenotypic variation in patients with multiple serrated polyps as a basis for gene discovery.
One hundred and twenty-six patients with multiple (≥5) serrated polyps were recruited to the study. Polyp counts were extracted from histology and colonoscopy reports. Ethnicity was self-reported. Family history of cancer data were derived from pedigrees. Ascertainment status was classified as either index case or identified by screening.
The average reported polyp count was 39. Patients with highest polyp numbers were more likely to be male (P
= 0.02). Colorectal cancer (CRC) was identified in 49 of 119 patients (41%) and 28% of these patients had multiple CRC. Young onset patients had higher polyp numbers (P
= 0.03) and were more likely to have their CRC in the distal colon (P
= 0.02). CRC was significantly associated with the presence of adenomas (P
= 0.03). Patients were divided into moderate polyposis (5-79 serrated polyps) and dense polyposis (80 or more) categories. The dense polyposis category was associated with a lack of family history for CRC (P
= 0.034) and male gender (P
= 0.014), independent of ascertainment status and recruitment site.
Multiple serrated polyps were associated with an increased personal risk of CRC. A subset of patients with the highest polyp numbers was more likely to be male and to have no family history of CRC. This result suggests heterogeneous modes of inheritance and has implications for studies investigating the genetic basis of multiple serrated polyps.
Hyperplastic polyposis; Serrated neoplasia; Smoking; Family history; Ethnicity
Identifying individuals with Lynch syndrome (LS) is highly beneficial. However, it is unclear whether microsatellite instability (MSI) or immunohistochemistry (IHC) should be used as the screening test and whether screening should target all patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) or those in high-risk subgroups.
Patients and Methods
MSI testing and IHC for the four mismatch repair proteins was performed on 500 tumors from unselected patients with CRC. If either MSI or IHC was abnormal, complete mutation analysis for the mismatch repair genes was performed.
Among the 500 patients, 18 patients (3.6%) had LS. All 18 patients detected with LS (100%) had MSI-high tumors; 17 (94%) of 18 patients with LS were correctly predicted by IHC. Of the 18 probands, only eight patients (44%) were diagnosed at age younger than 50 years, and only 13 patients (72%) met the revised Bethesda guidelines. When these results were added to data on 1,066 previously studied patients, the entire study cohort (N = 1,566) showed an overall prevalence of 44 of 1,566 patients (2.8%; 95% CI, 2.1% to 3.8%) for LS. For each proband, on average, three additional family members carried MMR mutations.
One of every 35 patients with CRC has LS, and each has at least three relatives with LS; all of whom can benefit from increased cancer surveillance. For screening, IHC is almost equally sensitive as MSI, but IHC is more readily available and helps to direct gene testing. Limiting tumor analysis to patients who fulfill Bethesda criteria would fail to identify 28% (or one in four) cases of LS.
Background and Aims
Although the clinical phenotype of Lynch syndrome (also known as Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer) has been well described, little is known about disease in PMS2 mutation carriers. Now that mutation detection methods can discern mutations in PMS2 from mutations in its pseudogenes, more mutation carriers have been identified. Information about the clinical significance of PMS2 mutations is crucial for appropriate counseling. Here, we report the clinical characteristics of a large series of PMS2 mutation carriers.
We performed PMS2 mutation analysis using long range PCR and MLPA for 99 probands diagnosed with Lynch syndrome-associated tumors showing isolated loss of PMS2 by immunohistochemistry. Penetrance was calculated using a modified segregation analysis adjusting for ascertainment.
Germline PMS2 mutations were detected in 62% of probands (n = 55 monoallelic; 6 biallelic). Among families with monoallelic PMS2 mutations, 65.5% met revised Bethesda guidelines. Compared with the general population, in mutation carriers, the incidence of colorectal cancer was 5.2 fold higher and the incidence of endometrial cancer was 7.5 fold higher. In North America, this translates to a cumulative cancer risk to age 70 of 15–20% for colorectal cancer, 15% for endometrial cancer, and 25–32% for any Lynch syndrome-associated cancer. No elevated risk for non-Lynch syndrome-associated cancers was observed.
PMS2 mutations contribute significantly to Lynch syndrome but the penetrance for monoallelic mutation carriers appears to be lower than that for the other mismatch repair genes. Modified counseling and cancer surveillance guidelines for PMS2 mutation carriers are proposed.
PMS2; Lynch syndrome; HNPCC; penetrance
Much of the genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer (CRC) in humans is unexplained. Studying a Caucasian-dominated population in the United States, we showed that germline allele-specific expression (ASE) of the gene encoding transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) type I receptor, TGFBR1, is a quantitative trait that occurs in 10 to 20% of CRC patients and 1 to 3% of controls. ASE results in reduced expression of the gene, is dominantly inherited, segregates in families, and occurs in sporadic CRC cases. Although subtle, the reduction in constitutive TGFBR1 expression alters SMAD-mediated TGF-β signaling. Two major TGFBR1 haplotypes are predominant among ASE cases, which suggests ancestral mutations, but causative germline changes have not been identified. Conservative estimates suggest that ASE confers a substantially increased risk of CRC (odds ratio, 8.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.6 to 29.1), but these estimates require confirmation and will probably show ethnic differences.
Variants in numerous genes are thought to affect the success or failure of cancer chemotherapy. Interindividual variability can result from genes involved in drug metabolism and transport, drug targets (receptors, enzymes, etc), and proteins relevant to cell survival (e.g., cell cycle, DNA repair, and apoptosis). The purpose of the current study is to establish a flexible, cost-effective, high-throughput genotyping platform for candidate genes involved in chemoresistance and -sensitivity, and treatment outcomes.
We have adopted SNPlex for genotyping 432 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 160 candidate genes implicated in response to anticancer chemotherapy.
The genotyping panels were applied to 39 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia undergoing flavopiridol chemotherapy, and 90 patients with colorectal cancer. 408 SNPs (94%) produced successful genotyping results. Additional genotyping methods were established for polymorphisms undetectable by SNPlex, including multiplexed SNaPshot for CYP2D6 SNPs, and PCR amplification with fluorescently labeled primers for the UGT1A1 promoter (TA)nTAA repeat polymorphism.
This genotyping panel is useful for supporting clinical anticancer drug trials to identify polymorphisms that contribute to interindividual variability in drug response. Availability of population genetic data across multiple studies has the potential to yield genetic biomarkers for optimizing anticancer therapy.
In a time of emerging genetic tests and technologies, genetic counselors are faced with the challenge of translating complex genomic data into information that will aid their client’s ability to learn about, understand, make, and cope with decisions relating to genetic diagnoses. The first of two companion articles in this issue examines the role of the genetic counselor, particularly in counseling individuals at risk for or diagnosed with breast cancer, in an era of high-tech health care and gene patents.