Altered expression of MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 in predisposition to hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer

E Renkonen, YG Zhang, H Lohi, R Salovaara, WM Abdel-Rahman, Mef Nilbert, K Aittomaki, HJ Jarvinen, JP Mecklin, A Lindblom, P Peltomaki

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Purpose: A considerable fraction (30% to 70%) of families with verified or putative hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer fails to show mutations in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Our purpose was to address the genetic etiology of such families. Materials and Methods: We scrutinized a population-based cohort of 26 families from Finland that had screened mutation-negative by previous techniques. Blood was tested for allelic messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 by single nucleotide primer extension (SNuPE), and tumor tissue for MMR protein expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC) as well as for microsatellite instability (MSI). Full-length cDNAs of genes implicated by SNuPE or IHC were cloned and sequenced. Results: Unbalanced mRNA expression of MLH1 alleles was evident in two families. An inherited nonsense mutation was subsequently identified in one family, and complete silencing of the mutated allele was identified in the other family. Extinct protein expression by IHC implicated MLH1 in these two and in four other families, MSH2 in four families, and MSH6 in one family. Although no unequivocal genomic mutations were detected in the latter families, haplotype and other findings provided support for heritable defects. With one exception, all tumors with IHC alterations showed MSI, in contrast to the remaining families, which showed neither IHC changes nor MSI. Conclusion: Our expression-based strategy stratified the present "mutation-negative" cohort into two discrete categories: families linked to the major MMR genes MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 (11 [42%] of 26) and those likely to be associated with other, as yet unknown susceptibility genes (15 [58%] of 26). (C) 2003 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3629-3637
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology


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