Browsing by Author "Gylling, Annette"

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  • Gylling, Annette (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal carcinoma (HNPCC; Lynch syndrome) is among the most common hereditary cancers in man and a model of cancers arising through deficient DNA mismatch repair (MMR). It is inherited in a dominant manner with predisposing germline mutations in the MMR genes, mainly MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2. Both copies of the MMR gene need to be inactivated for cancer development. Since Lynch syndrome family members are born with one defective copy of one of the MMR genes in their germline, they only need to acquire a so called second hit to inactivate the MMR gene. Hence, they usually develop cancer at an early age. MMR gene inactivation leads to accumulation of mutations particularly in short repeat tracts, known as microsatellites, causing microsatellite instability (MSI). MSI is the hallmark of Lynch syndrome tumors, but is present in approximately 15% of sporadic tumors as well. There are several possible mechanisms of somatic inactivation (i.e. the second hit ) of MMR genes, for instance deletion of the wild-type copy, leading to loss of heterozygosity (LOH), methylation of promoter regions necessary for gene transcription, or mitotic recombination or gene conversion. In the Lynch syndrome tumors carrying germline mutations in the MMR gene, LOH was found to be the most frequent mechanism of somatic inactivation in the present study. We also studied MLH1/MSH2 deletion carriers and found that somatic mutations identical to the ones in the germline occurred frequently in colorectal cancers and were also present in extracolonic Lynch syndrome-associated tumors. Chromosome-specific marker analysis implied that gene conversion, rather than mitotic recombination or deletion of the respective gene locus accounted for wild-type inactivation. Lynch syndrome patients are predisposed to certain types of cancers, the most common ones being colorectal, endometrial and gastric cancer. Gastric cancer and uroepithelial tumors of bladder and ureter were observed to be true Lynch syndrome tumors with MMR deficiency as the driving force of tumorigenesis. Brain tumors and kidney carcinoma, on the other hand, were mostly MSS, implying the possibility of alternative routes of tumor development. These results present possible implications in clinical cancer surveillance. In about one-third of families suspected of Lynch syndrome, mutations in MMR genes are not found, and we therefore looked for alternative mechanisms of predisposition. According to our results, large genomic deletions, mainly in MSH2, and germline epimutations in MLH1, together explain a significant fraction of point mutation-negative families suspected of Lynch syndrome and are associated with characteristic clinical and family features. Our findings have important implications in the diagnosis and management of Lynch syndrome families.