Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Genetic basis of hereditary colorectal cancers: Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer and Familial adenomatous polyposis

Elise Renkonen

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Haartman Institute, Department of Medical Genetics.

Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are characterized by a high risk and early onset of colorectal cancer (CRC). HNPCC is due to a germline mutation in one of the following MMR genes: MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2. A majority of FAP and attenuated FAP (AFAP) cases are due to germline mutations of APC, causing the development of multiple colorectal polyps. To date, over 450 MMR gene mutations and over 800 APC mutations have been identified. Most of these mutations lead to a truncated protein, easily detected by conventional mutation detection methods. However, in about 30% of HNPCC and FAP, and about 90% of AFAP families, mutations remain unknown.

We aimed to clarify the genetic basis and genotype-phenotype correlation of mutation negative HNPCC and FAP/AFAP families by advanced mutation detection methods designed to detect large genomic rearrangements, mRNA and protein expression alterations, promoter mutations, phenotype linked haplotypes, and tumoral loss of heterozygosity. We also aimed to estimate the frequency of HNPCC in Uruguayan CRC patients.

Our expression based analysis of mutation negative HNPCC divided these families into two categories: 1) 42% of families linked to the MMR genes with a phenotype resembling that of mutation positive, and 2) 58% of families likely to be associated with other susceptibility genes. Unbalanced mRNA expression of MLH1 was observed in two families. Further studies revealed that a MLH1 nonsense mutation, R100X was associated with aberrant splicing of exons not related to the mutation and an MLH1 deletion (AGAA) at nucleotide 210 was associated with multiple exon skipping, without an overall increase in the frequency of splice events.

APC mutation negative FAP/AFAP families were divided into four groups according to the genetic basis of their predisposition. Four (14%) families displayed a constitutional deletion of APC with profuse polyposis, early age of onset and frequent extracolonic manifestations. Aberrant mRNA expression of one allele was observed in seven (24%) families with later onset and less frequent extracolonic manifestations. In 15 (52%) families the involvement of APC could neither be confirmed nor excluded. In three (10%) of the families a germline mutation was detected in genes other than APC: AXIN2 in one family, and MYH in two families. The families with undefined genetic basis and especially those with AXIN2 or MYH mutations frequently displayed AFAP or atypical polyposis.

Of the Uruguayan CRC patients, 2.6% (12/461) fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for HNPCC and 5.6% (26/461) were associated with increased risk of cancer. Unexpectedly low frequency of molecularly defined HNPCC cases may suggest a different genetic profile in the Uruguayan population and the involvement of novel susceptibility genes.

Accurate genetic and clinical characterization of families with hereditary colorectal cancers, and the definition of the genetic basis of "mutation negative" families in particular, facilitate proper clinical management of such families.

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Last updated 20.04.2006

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