MLH1 germline epimutations as a factor in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer
ABSTRACT Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is caused by heterozygous germline sequence mutations of DNA mismatch repair genes, most frequently MLH1 or MSH2. A novel molecular mechanism for HNPCC has recently been suggested by the finding of individuals with soma-wide monoallelic hypermethylation of the MLH1 gene promoter. In this study, we determined the frequency and role of germline epimutations of MLH1 in HNPCC.
A cohort of 160 probands from HNPCC families who did not harbor germline sequence mutations in the mismatch repair genes were screened for methylation of the MLH1 and EPM2AIP1 promoters by combined bisulfite and restriction analyses. Allelic expression and family transmission of MLH1 were determined using polymorphisms in intron 4 and the 3' untranslated region.
One of 160 individuals had monoallelic MLH1 hypermethylation in peripheral blood, hair follicles, and buccal mucosa, indicative of a soma-wide alteration. Monoallelic transcription of the paternal MLH1 allele was shown using a heterozygous expressed polymorphism within the 3' untranslated region. The hypermethylated allele was maternally transmitted, however, the mother and siblings who inherited the same maternal homologue were unmethylated at MLH1, suggesting the epimutation arose as a de novo event.
Germline MLH1 epimutations are functionally equivalent to an inactivating mutation and produce a clinical phenotype that resembles HNPCC. Inheritance of epimutations is weak, so family history is not a useful guide for screening. Germline epimutations should be suspected in younger individuals without a family history who present with a microsatellite unstable tumor showing loss of MLH1 expression.
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ABSTRACT: Loss of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) function, due to somatic or germline epi/genetic alterations of MMR genes leads to the accumulation of numerous mutations across the genome, creating a molecular phenotype known as microsatellite instability (MSI). In gastric cancer (GC), MSI occurs in about 15% to 30% of the cases. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms underlying the acquisition of MSI in GC as well as on the clinic, pathologic and molecular consequences of the MSI phenotype. Additionally, current therapeutic strategies for GC and their applicability in the MSI subset are also discussed.
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ABSTRACT: Whereas the central role of DNA as the carrier of genetic information has long been well known, the impact of epigenetic mechanisms as mediators between genes and environment is now becoming increasingly clear. Epigenetics helps explain the partially reversible interplay between gene function and environment and even permits observation of the transgenerational transmission of epigenetic modifications. Of special interest are gender-specific mechanisms of gene regulation which, among others, offer an explanation for gender differences in human diseases. Since the study of epigenetic mechanisms and their impact on the etiology of common diseases is in its infancy, it is too early to draw general conclusions from the current state of knowledge. Moreover, completely new strategies are needed to research these effects. In addition to molecular findings, definitions of specific phenotypes are required, including biographic data of affected individuals and their ancestors. Epigenetics needs to be viewed in the context of the theory of evolution, classical genetics, and environmental research. Its aim is not to substitute the knowledge in these disciplines, but rather to provide a key to link their findings, thereby opening up new possibilities in terms of interpretation and understanding of gender differences in medicine. If these epigenetic mechanisms are better understood, particularly in terms of specific diseases, it is conceivable that these disorders could be influenced and treated in a more targeted manner in the future.Bundesgesundheitsblatt - Gesundheitsforschung - Gesundheitsschutz 07/2014; 57(9). DOI:10.1007/s00103-014-2013-5 · 1.01 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Carriers of a germline mutation in one of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes have a high risk of developing numerous different cancers, predominantly colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer (known as Lynch syndrome). MMR gene mutation carriers develop tumors with MMR deficiency identified by tumor microsatellite instability or immunohistochemical loss of MMR protein expression. Tumor MMR deficiency is used to identify individuals most likely to carry an MMR gene mutation. However, MMR deficiency can also result from somatic inactivation, most commonly methylation of the MLH1 gene promoter. As tumor MMR testing of all incident colorectal and endometrial cancers (universal screening) is becoming increasingly adopted, a growing clinical problem is emerging for individuals who have tumors that show MMR deficiency who are subsequently found not to carry an MMR gene mutation after genetic testing using the current diagnostic approaches (Sanger sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification) and who also show no evidence of MLH1 methylation. The inability to determine the underlying cause of tumor MMR deficiency in these "Lynch-like" or "suspected Lynch syndrome" cases has significant implications on the clinical management of these individuals and their relatives. When the data from published studies are combined, 59% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 55% to 64%) of colorectal cancers and 52% (95% CI: 41% to 62%) of endometrial cancers with MMR deficiency were identified as suspected Lynch syndrome. Recent studies estimated that colorectal cancer risk for relatives of suspected Lynch syndrome cases is lower than for relatives of those with MMR gene mutations, but higher than for relatives of those with tumor MMR deficiency resulting from methylation of the MLH1 gene promoter. The cause of tumor MMR deficiency in suspected Lynch syndrome cases is likely due to either unidentified germline MMR gene mutations, somatic cell mosaicism, or biallelic somatic inactivation. Determining the underlying cause of tumor MMR deficiency in suspected Lynch syndrome cases is likely to reshape the current triaging schemes used to identify germline MMR gene mutations in cancer-affected individuals and their relatives.The Application of Clinical Genetics 01/2014; 7:183-93. DOI:10.2147/TACG.S48625