Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Fumarate Hydratase and Succinate Dehydrogenase in Neoplasia

Sakari Vanharanta

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

Germline mutations in fumarate hydratase (FH) cause hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC). FH is a nuclear encoded enzyme which functions in the Krebs tricarboxylic acid cycle, and homozygous mutation in FH lead to severe developmental defects. Both uterine and cutaneous leiomyomas are components of the HLRCC phenotype. Most of these tumours show loss of the wild-type allele and, also, the mutations reduce FH enzyme activity, which indicate that FH is a tumour suppressor gene. The renal cell cancers associated with HLRCC are of rare papillary type 2 histology. Other genes involved in the Krebs cycle, which are also implicated in neoplasia are 3 of the 4 subunits encoding succinate dehydrogenase (SDH); mutations in SHDB, SDHC, and SDHD predispose to paraganglioma and phaeochromocytoma.

Although uterine leiomyomas (or fibroids) are very common, the estimations of affected women ranging from 25% to 77%, not much is known about their genetic background. Cytogenetic studies have revealed that rearrangements involving chromosomes 6, 7, 12 and 14 are most commonly seen in fibroids. Deletions on the long arm of chromosome 7 have been reported to be involved in about 17 to 34 % of leiomyomas and the small commonly deleted region on 7q22 suggests that there might be an underlying tumour suppressor gene in that region.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the genetic mechanisms behind the development of tumours associated with HLRCC, both renal cell cancer and uterine fibroids. Firstly, a database search at the Finnish cancer registry was conducted in order to identify new families with early-onset RCC and to test if the family history was compatible with HLRCC. Secondly, sporadic uterine fibroids were tested for deletions on 7q in order to define the minimal deleted 7q-region, followed by mutation analysis of the candidate genes. Thirdly, oligonucleotide chips were utilised to study the global gene expression profiles of uterine fibroids in order to test whether 7q-deletions and FH mutations significantly affected fibroid biology.

In the screen for early-onset RCC, 214 families were identified. Subsequently, the pedigrees were constructed and clinical data obtained. One of the index cases (RCC at the age of 28) had a mother who had been diagnosed with a heart tumour, which in further investigation turned out to be a paraganglioma. This lead to an alternative hypothesis that SDH, instead of FH, could be involved. SDHA, SDHB, SDHC and SDHD were sequenced from these individuals; a germline SDHB R27X mutation was detected with loss of the wild-type allele in both tumours. These results suggest that germline mutations in the SDHB gene predispose to early-onset RCC establishing a novel form of hereditary RCC. This has immediate clinical implications in the surveillance of patients suffering from early-onset RCC and phaeochromocytoma/paraganglioma.

For the studies on sporadic uterine fibroids, a set of 166 fibroids from 51 individuals were collected. The 7q LOH mapping defined a commonly deleted region of about 3.2 mega bases in 11 of the 166 tumours. The deletion was consistent with previously reported allelotyping studies of leiomyomas and it therefore suggested the presence of a tumour suppressor gene in the deleted region. Furthermore, the high-resolution aCGH-chip analysis refined the deleted region to only 2.79Mb. When combined with previous data, the commonly deleted region was only 2.3Mb. The mutation screening of the known genes within the commonly deleted region did not reveal pathogenic mutations, however.

The expression microarray analysis revealed that FH-deficient fibroids, both sporadic and familial, had their distinct gene expression profile as they formed their own group in the unsupervised clustering. On the other hand, the presence or absence of 7q-deletions did not significantly alter the global gene expression pattern of fibroids, suggesting that these two groups do not have different biological backgrounds. Multiple differentially expressed genes were identified between FH wild-type and FH-mutant fibroids, and the most significant increase was seen in the expression of carbohydrate metabolism-related and hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) target genes.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 12.10.2006

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