Objectives: Immunohistochemistry for DNA mismatch repair proteins is used to screen for Lynch syndrome in individuals with colorectal carcinoma (CRC). Although solitary loss of PMS2 expression is indicative of carrying a germline mutation in PMS2, previous studies reported MLH1 mutation in some cases. We determined the prevalence of MLH1 germline mutations in a large cohort of individuals with a CRC demonstrating solitary loss of PMS2 expression. Design: This cohort study included 88 individuals affected with a PMS2-deficient CRC from the Colon Cancer Family Registry Cohort. Germline PMS2 mutation analysis (long-range PCR and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification) was followed by MLH1 mutation testing (Sanger sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification). Results: Of the 66 individuals with complete mutation screening, we identified a pathogenic PMS2 mutation in 49 (74%), a pathogenic MLH1 mutation in 8 (12%) and a MLH1 variant of uncertain clinical significance predicted to be damaging by in silico analysis in 3 (4%); 6 (9%) carried variants likely to have no clinical significance. Missense point mutations accounted for most alterations (83%; 9/11) in MLH1. The MLH1 c.113A> G p.Asn38Ser mutation was found in 2 related individuals. One individual who carried the MLH1 intronic mutation c.677+3A>G p.Gln197Argfs∗8 leading to the skipping of exon 8, developed 2 tumours, both of which retained MLH1 expression. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of CRCs with solitary loss of PMS2 expression are associated with a deleterious MLH1 germline mutation supporting the screening for MLH1 in individuals with tumours of this immunophenotype, when no PMS2 mutation has been identified.
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