Molecular Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 479–486 | Cite as

Coding Microsatellite Frameshift Mutations Accumulate in Atherosclerotic Carotid Artery Lesions: Evaluation of 26 Cases and Literature Review

  • Carolin Kurz
  • Maani Hakimi
  • Matthias Kloor
  • Caspar Grond-Ginsbach
  • Marie-Luise Gross-Weissmann
  • Dittmar Böckler
  • Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz
  • Susanne Dihlmann
Research Article


Somatic DNA alterations are known to occur in atherosclerotic carotid artery lesions; however, their significance is unknown. The accumulation of microsatellite mutations in coding DNA regions may reflect a deficiency of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system. Alternatively, accumulation of these coding microsatellite mutations may indicate that they contribute to the pathology. To discriminate between these two possibilities, we compared the mutation frequencies in coding microsatellites (likely functionally relevant) with those in noncoding microsatellites (likely neutral). Genomic DNA was isolated from carotid endarterectomy (CEA) specimens of 26 patients undergoing carotid surgery and from 15 nonatherosclerotic control arteries. Samples were analyzed by DNA fragment analysis for instability at three noncoding (BAT25, BAT26, CAT25) and five coding (AIM2, ACVR2, BAX, CASP5, TGFBR2) microsatellite loci, with proven validity for detection of microsatellite instability in neoplasms. We found an increased frequency of coding microsatellite mutations in CEA specimens compared with control specimens (34.6 versus 0%; p = 0.0013). Five CEA specimens exhibited more than one frameshift mutation, and ACVR2 and CASP5 were affected most frequently (5/26 and 6/26). Moreover, the rate of coding microsatellite alterations (15/130) differed significantly from that of noncoding alterations (0/78) in CEA specimens (p = 0.0013). In control arteries, no microsatellite alterations were observed, neither in coding nor in noncoding microsatellite loci. In conclusion, the specific accumulation of coding mutations suggests that these mutations play a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic carotid lesions, since the absence of mutations in noncoding microsatellites argues against general microsatellite instability, reflecting MMR deficiency.



We thank Anja Spieler, Petra Hoefler and Heike Sartor for excellent technical assistance in tissue processing for histological analysis, immunohistochemistry and DNA extraction. We thank all patients and their relatives for making this study possible. This study was financially supported by a grant from the Koerber-Stiftung (young investigator grant) to Matthias Kloor. We acknowledge financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg within the funding program Open Access Publishing.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolin Kurz
    • 1
  • Maani Hakimi
    • 2
  • Matthias Kloor
    • 3
  • Caspar Grond-Ginsbach
    • 4
  • Marie-Luise Gross-Weissmann
    • 5
    • 6
  • Dittmar Böckler
    • 2
  • Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz
    • 3
  • Susanne Dihlmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyTechnical University MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Vascular and Endovascular SurgeryUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Applied Tumor Biology, Institute of PathologyUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  4. 4.Department of Neurology, Institute of PathologyUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  5. 5.General Pathology, Institute of PathologyUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  6. 6.Pathologie HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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