Germline epimutation of MLH1 in individuals with multiple cancers.
ABSTRACT Epigenetic silencing can mimic genetic mutation by abolishing expression of a gene. We hypothesized that an epimutation could occur in any gene as a germline event that predisposes to disease and looked for examples in tumor suppressor genes in individuals with cancer. Here we report two individuals with soma-wide, allele-specific and mosaic hypermethylation of the DNA mismatch repair gene MLH1. Both individuals lack evidence of genetic mutation in any mismatch repair gene but have had multiple primary tumors that show mismatch repair deficiency, and both meet clinical criteria for hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. The epimutation was also present in spermatozoa of one of the individuals, indicating a germline defect and the potential for transmission to offspring. Germline epimutation provides a mechanism for phenocopying of genetic disease. The mosaicism and nonmendelian inheritance that are characteristic of epigenetic states could produce patterns of disease risk that resemble those of polygenic or complex traits.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Robyn Ward, Apr 14, 2014
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ABSTRACT: Changes in epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation are associated with a broad range of disease traits, including cancer, asthma, metabolic disorders, and various reproductive conditions. It seems plausible that changes in epigenetic state may be induced by environmental exposures such as malnutrition, tobacco smoke, air pollutants, metals, organic chemicals, other sources of oxidative stress, and the microbiome, particularly if the exposure occurs during key periods of development. Thus, epigenetic changes could represent an important pathway by which environmental factors influence disease risks, both within individuals and across generations. We discuss some of the challenges in studying epigenetic mediation of pathogenesis and describe some unique opportunities for exploring these phenomena.Human Genetics 06/2012; 131(10):1565-89. DOI:10.1007/s00439-012-1189-8 · 4.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Nongenetic inheritance is a potentially important but poorly understood factor in population responses to rapid environmental change. Accumulating evidence indicates that nongenetic inheritance influences a diverse array of traits in all organisms and can allow for the transmission of environmentally induced phenotypic changes (‘acquired traits’), as well as spontaneously arising and highly mutable variants. We review models of adaptation to changing environments under the assumption of a broadened model of inheritance that incorporates nongenetic mechanisms of transmission, and survey relevant empirical examples. Theory suggests that nongenetic inheritance can increase the rate of both phenotypic and genetic change and, in some cases, alter the direction of change. Empirical evidence shows that a diversity of phenotypes – spanning a continuum from adaptive to pathological – can be transmitted nongenetically. The presence of nongenetic inheritance therefore complicates our understanding of evolutionary responses to environmental change. We outline a research program encompassing experimental studies that test for transgenerational effects of a range of environmental factors, followed by theoretical and empirical studies on the population-level consequences of such effects.Evolutionary Applications 02/2012; 5:192-201. DOI:10.1111/j.1752-4571.2011.00213.x · 4.15 Impact Factor
Chapter: Brain Tumors and the Lynch SyndromeManagement of CNS Tumors, 09/2011; , ISBN: 978-953-307-646-1