Inversion of exons 1–7 of the MSH2 gene is a frequent cause of unexplained Lynch syndrome in one local population

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Abstract

Germline mutations in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes, such as MSH2, cause Lynch syndrome, an autosomal dominant predisposition to colorectal as well as other cancers. Our research clinic focuses on hereditary colorectal cancer, and over the past 9 years we have identified germline mutations in DNA MMR genes in 101 patients using commercial genetic reference laboratories. We also collected samples from twelve patients with absent MSH2 protein expression and microsatellite instability in tumor tissue, with a family history suggestive of Lynch syndrome, but negative germline test results. The most likely explanation for this set of results is that the germline testing did not detect true germline mutations in these patients. Two of our patients with failed commercial testing were later found to have deletions in the 3′ region of EPCAM, the gene just upstream of MSH2, but no explanation could be found for inactivation of MSH2 in the other ten patients. We used allelic dropout in long PCR to look for potential regions of rearrangement in the MSH2 gene. This method detected a potential rearrangement breakpoint in the same region of MSH2 where one breakpoint of a 10 Mb inversion was reported previously. We tested these ten patients for this inversion. Six of 10 patients had the inversion, indicating the importance of including testing for this inversion in patients suspected of having MSH2-type Lynch syndrome in our population. Additionally, this method could be further developed to look for inversions in other genes where current methods of testing fail to find a causative mutation.