Converging endometrial and ovarian tumorigenesis in Lynch syndrome: Shared origin of synchronous carcinomas

Niskakoski A, Pasanen A, Porkka N, Eldfors S, Lassus H, Renkonen-Sinisalo L, Kaur S, Mecklin JP, Bützow R, Peltomäki P.

OBJECTIVE: The diagnosis of carcinoma in both the uterus and the ovary simultaneously is not uncommon and raises the question of synchronous primaries vs. metastatic disease. Targeted sequencing of sporadic synchronous endometrial and ovarian carcinomas has shown that such tumors are clonally related and thus represent metastatic disease from one site to the other. Our purpose was to investigate whether or not the same applies to Lynch syndrome (LS), in which synchronous cancers of the gynecological tract are twice as frequent as in sporadic cases, reflecting inherited defects in DNA mismatch repair (MMR).

METHODS: MMR gene mutation carriers with endometrial or ovarian carcinoma or endometrial hyperplasia were identified from a nationwide registry. Endometrial (n = 35) and ovarian carcinomas (n = 23), including 13 synchronous carcinoma pairs, were collected as well as endometrial hyperplasias (n = 56) and normal endometria (n = 99) from a surveillance program over two decades. All samples were studied for MMR status, ARID1A and L1CAM protein expression and tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation, and synchronous carcinomas additionally for somatic mutation profiles of 578 cancer-relevant genes.

RESULTS: Synchronous carcinomas were molecularly concordant in all cases. Prior or concurrent complex (but not simple) endometrial hyperplasias showed a high degree of concordance with endometrial or ovarian carcinoma as the endpoint lesion.

CONCLUSIONS: Our investigation suggests shared origins for synchronous endometrial and ovarian carcinomas in LS, in analogy to sporadic cases. The similar degrees of concordance between complex hyperplasias and endometrial vs. ovarian carcinoma highlight converging pathways for endometrial and ovarian tumorigenesis overall.

Gynecol Oncol. 2018 Apr 28. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2018.04.566. [Epub ahead of print]


Molecular changes preceding endometrial and ovarian cancer: a study of consecutive endometrial specimens from Lynch syndrome surveillance

Niskakoski A, Pasanen A, Lassus H, Renkonen-Sinisalo L, Kaur S, Mecklin J-P, Bützow R and Peltomäki P

Molecular alterations preceding endometrial and ovarian cancer and the sequence of events are unknown. Consecutive specimens from lifelong surveillance for Lynch syndrome provides a natural setting to address such questions. To molecularly define the multistep gynecological tumorigenesis, DNA mismatch repair gene mutation carriers with endometrial or ovarian carcinoma or endometrial hyperplasia were identified from a nation-wide registry and endometrial biopsy specimens taken from these individuals during 20 years of screening were collected. A total of 213 endometrial and ovarian specimens from Lynch syndrome individuals and 197 histology-matched (non-serous) samples from sporadic cases were available for this investigation. The specimens were profiled for markers linked to endometrial and ovarian tumorigenesis, including ARID1A protein expression, mismatch repair status, and tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation. In Lynch syndrome-associated endometrial and ovarian carcinomas, ARID1A protein was lost in 61–100% and mismatch repair was deficient in 97–100%, compared to 0–17% and 14–44% in sporadic cases (P = 0.000). ARID1A loss appeared in complex hyperplasia and deficient mismatch repair and tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation in histologically normal endometrium. Despite quantitative differences between Lynch syndrome and sporadic cases, ARID1A expression, mismatch repair, and tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation divided endometrial samples from both patient groups into three categories of increasing abnormality, comprising normal endometrium and simple hyperplasia (I), complex hyperplasia with or without atypia (II), and endometrial cancer (III). Complex hyperplasias without vs. with atypia were molecularly indistinguishable. In conclusion, surveillance specimens from Lynch syndrome identify mismatch repair deficiency, tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation, and ARID1A loss as early changes in tumor development. Our findings are clinically relevant for the classification of endometrial hyperplasias and have potential implications in cancer prevention in Lynch syndrome and beyond.

Mod Pathol. 2018 Mar 27. doi: 10.1038/s41379-018-0044-4. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID: 29588532


Sequencing of Lynch syndrome tumors reveals the importance of epigenetic alterations

Porkka N, Valo S, Nieminen TT, Olkinuora A, Mäki-Nevala S, Eldfors S and Peltomäki P

Genomic instability and epigenetic aberrations are important classifiers of human tumors, yet, their interrelations are poorly understood. We used Lynch syndrome (LS) to address such relationships. Forty-five tumors (11 colorectal adenomas, 18 colorectal carcinomas, and 16 ovarian carcinomas) were profiled for CpG Island Methylator Phenotype (CIMP) and somatic mutations. All tumors showed high-degree microsatellite instability. Panel sequencing of 578 cancer-relevant genes revealed the average number of 1433, 1124, and 657 non-synonymous somatic mutations per colorectal adenoma, colorectal carcinoma, and ovarian carcinoma, respectively. Genes harboring mutations with allele frequency 25 % or higher in at least 31 % of tumors were regarded to be possible drivers. Among 72 and 10 such genes identified in colorectal and ovarian tumors, respectively, the most frequently mutated genes BRD4 and MLL2 (62 % of colorectal tumors) and ARID1A (50 % of ovarian carcinomas) are involved in epigenetic regulation. The total number of somatic mutations or mutant genes per tumor were significantly associated with CIMP. Our results suggest that even in an inherited disease, tumor type-specific epigenetic changes are significant and may result from regulatory changes (CIMP) or structural events (mutations of epigenetic regulatory genes). The findings are clinically relevant since many of the affected pathways can be therapeutically targeted.

Oncotarget, 2017[]=22445&path%5B%5D=70979

Western Diet Deregulates Bile Acid Homeostasis, Cell Proliferation, and Tumorigenesis in Colon

Dermadi D, Valo S, Ollila S, Soliymani R, Sipari N, Pussila M, Sarantaus L, Linden J, Baumann M and Nyström M

Western-style diets (WD) high in fat and scarce in fiber and vitamin D increase risk of colorectal cancer. Here, we performed a long-term diet study in mice to follow tumorigenesis and characterize structural and metabolic changes in colon mucosa associated with WD and predisposition to colorectal cancer. WD increased colon tumor numbers, and mucosa proteomic analysis indicated severe deregulation of intracellular bile acid (BA) homeostasis and activation of cell proliferation. WD also increased crypt depth and colon cell proliferation. Despite increased luminal BA, colonocytes from WD-fed mice exhibited decreased expression of the BA transporters FABP6, OSTβ, and ASBT and decreased concentrations of secondary BA deoxycholic acid and lithocholic acid, indicating reduced activity of the nuclear BA receptor FXR. Overall, our results suggest that WD increases cancer risk by FXR inactivation, leading to BA deregulation and increased colon cell proliferation.

Cancer Res; 77(12); 3352–63. ©2017 AACR.

PMID: 28416481

Review in Duodecim: Disorders of DNA repair mechanisms and their clinical significance

Kansikas M, Nyström M & Peltomäki P.

DNA repair mechanisms maintain genome stability by preventing the multiplication of genetic errors, caused by environmental factors and intracellular processes during cell division. Unrepaired damage may permanently alter the genome and cell functions, and even minor changes in DNA strand may initiate malignant transformation of the cell. Up to 25 000 changes in DNA occur daily in a single actively dividing cell, and these changes are continuously repaired. If DNA repair mechanisms are impaired, errors will accumulate into the genome. As numerous factors of different nature can cause genetic errors, several different DNA repair mechanisms are necessary to ensure genomic stability.

DNA:n korjausmekanismit pitävät yllä perimän vakautta estämällä ympäristön ja solujen sisäisten prosessien aiheuttamien vaurioiden monistumisen solunjakautumisten yhteydessä. Korjaamatta jääneet vauriot voivat muuttaa perimän ja solun toimintaa pysyvästi. Jo pienikin DNA:n emäsjuosteessa tapahtuva muutos voi aloittaa solun muuttumisen syöpäsoluksi. Yhdessä aktiivisesti jakautuvassa solussa on arvioitu päivittäin tapahtuvan jopa 25 000 DNA:n muutosta, joita koko ajan korjataan. Mikäli DNA:n korjausmekanismien toiminta häiriintyy, alkaa perimään nopeasti kasautua virheitä. Koska virheitä aiheuttavat monet eri tekijät, jotka ovat luonteeltaan erilaisia, tarvitaan myös useita DNA:n korjausmekanismeja. Näiden mekanismien selvittäminen on ollut tärkeää, ja siinä uraauurtavaa työtä tehneet tutkijat palkittiin vuoden 2015 Nobelin kemianpalkinnolla.

Duodecim, 2017. (in Finnish)

Western diet enhances intestinal tumorigenesis in Min/+ mice, associating with mucosal metabolic and inflammatory stress and loss of Apc heterozygosity.

Niku M, Pajari AM, Sarantaus L, Päivärinta E, Storvik M, Heiman-Lindh A, Suokas S, Nyström M, Mutanen M.

Western-type diet (WD) is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We investigated the interaction of WD and heterozygous mutation in the Apc gene on adenoma formation and metabolic and immunological changes in the histologically normal intestinal mucosa of ApcMin/+ (Min/+) mice. The diet used was high in saturated fat and low in calcium, vitamin D, fiber and folate. The number of adenomas was twofold higher in the WD mice compared to controls, but adenoma size, proliferation or apoptosis did not differ. The ratio of the Min to wild-type allele was higher in the WD mice, indicating accelerated loss of Apc heterozygosity (LOH). Densities of intraepithelial CD3ε+ T lymphocytes and of mucosal FoxP3+ regulatory T cells were higher in the WD mice, implying inflammatory changes. Western blot analyses from the mucosa of the WD mice showed suppressed activation of the ERK and AKT pathways and a tendency for reduced activation of the mTOR pathway as measured in phosphoS6/S6 levels. The expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 was up-regulated in both mRNA and protein levels. Gene expression analyses showed changes in oxidation/reduction, fatty acid and monosaccharide metabolic pathways, tissue organization, cell fate and regulation of apoptosis. Together, our results suggest that the high-risk Western diet primes the intestine to tumorigenesis through synergistic effects in energy metabolism, inflammation and oxidative stress, which culminate in the acceleration of LOH of the Apc gene.

J Nutr Biochem. 2016

Human DNA polymerase α interacts with mismatch repair proteins MSH2 and MSH6

Itkonen HM, Kantelinen J, Vaara M, Parkkinen S, Schlott B, Grosse F, Nyström M, Syväoja JE, Pospiech H.

The high fidelity of genome duplication is ensured by cooperation of the proofreading and mismatch repair (MMR) activities of DNA polymerases. Here, we show that human mismatch recognizing proteins MutS homologue 2 (MSH2) and MSH6 co-purify and interact with replicative Pol α, the replicative primase which replicates DNA with poor fidelity. We show that MSH2 associates with known human replication origins with different dynamics than Pol α. Furthermore, we explored the potential functional role of Pol α in the mismatch repair reaction by using an in vitro mismatch repair assay and observed that Pol α promotes mismatch repair. Taken together, we show that human Pol α interacts with MSH2-MSH6 complex and propose that this interaction occurs during the mismatch repair reaction.

FEBS Letters, 2016


Assessment of the InSiGHT interpretation criteria for the clinical classification of 24 MLH1 and MSH2 gene variants

Tricarico R, Kasela M, Mareni C, Thompson BA, Drouet A, Staderini L, Gorelli G, Crucianelli F, Ingrosso V, Kantelinen J, Papi L, De Angioletti M, Berardi M, Gaildrat P, Soukarieh O, Turchetti D, Martins A, Spurdle AB, Nyström M, Genuardi; InSiGHT Variant Interpretation Committee.


Pathogenicity assessment of DNA variants in disease genes to explain their clinical consequences is an integral component of diagnostic molecular testing. The International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumors (InSiGHT) has developed specific criteria for the interpretation of mismatch repair (MMR) gene variants. Here, we performed a systematic investigation of 24 MLH1 and MSH2 variants. The assessments were done by analyzing population frequency, segregation, tumor molecular characteristics, RNA effects, protein expression levels, and in vitro MMR activity. Classifications were confirmed for 15 variants and changed for three, and for the first time determined for six novel variants. Overall, based on our results, we propose the introduction of some refinements to the InSiGHT classification rules. The proposed changes have the advantage of homogenizing the InSIGHT interpretation criteria with those set out by the Evidence-based Network for the Interpretation of Germline Mutant Alleles (ENIGMA) consortium for the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. We also observed that the addition of only few clinical data was sufficient to obtain a more stable classification for variants considered as “likely pathogenic” or “likely nonpathogenic.” This shows the importance of obtaining as many as possible points of evidence for variant interpretation, especially from the clinical setting.

Hum Mutat. 2016

Characteristics of colorectal tumors with inactive Wnt signaling

The Role of Chromosomal Instability and Epigenetics in Colorectal Cancers Lacking β-Catenin/TCF Regulated Transcription

Abdel-Rahman WM, Lotsari-Salomaa JE, Kaur S, Niskakoski A, Knuutila S, Järvinen H, Mecklin JP and Peltomäki P.

All colorectal cancer cell lines except RKO displayed active β-catenin/TCF regulated transcription. This feature of RKO was noted in familial colon cancers; hence our aim was to dissect its carcinogenic mechanism. MFISH and CGH revealed distinct instability of chromosome structure in RKO. Gene expression microarray of RKO versus 7 colon cancer lines (with active Wnt signaling) and 3 normal specimens revealed 611 differentially expressed genes. The majority of the tested gene loci were susceptible to LOH in primary tumors with various β-catenin localizations as a surrogate marker for β-catenin activation. The immunohistochemistry of selected genes (IFI16, RGS4, MCTP1, DGKI, OBCAM/OPCML, and GLIPR1) confirmed that they were differentially expressed in clinical specimens. Since epigenetic mechanisms can contribute to expression changes, selected target genes were evaluated for promoter methylation in patient specimens from sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancers. CMTM3, DGKI, and OPCML were frequently hypermethylated in both groups, whereas KLK10, EPCAM, and DLC1 displayed subgroup specificity. The overall fraction of hypermethylated genes was higher in tumors with membranous β-catenin. We identified novel genes in colorectal carcinogenesis that might be useful in personalized tumor profiling. Tumors with inactive Wnt signaling are a heterogeneous group displaying interaction of chromosomal instability, Wnt signaling, and epigenetics.

Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2016

Update on Lynch syndrome genomics

Peltomäki P.

Four main DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes have been identified, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2, which when mutated cause susceptibility to Lynch syndrome (LS). LS is one of the most prevalent hereditary cancer syndromes in man and accounts for 1-3 % of unselected colorectal carcinomas and some 15 % of those with microsatellite instability and/or absent MMR protein. The International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumours (InSiGHT) maintains a database for LS-associated mutations since 1996. The database was recently reorganized to efficiently gather published and unpublished data and to classify the variants according to a five-tiered scheme linked to clinical recommendations. This review provides an update of germline mutations causing susceptibility to LS based on information available in the InSiGHT database and the latest literature. MMR gene mutation profiles, correlations between genotype and phenotype, and possible mechanisms leading to the characteristic spectrum of tumors in LS are discussed in light of the different functions of MMR proteins, many of which directly serve cancer avoidance.

Review in Fam cancer, 2016.

Fig. Distributions of the types of germline variants across each MMR gene (Peltomäki  P, Fam Cancer 2016).

Fig. Distributions of the types of germline variants across each MMR gene (Peltomäki P, Fam Cancer 2016).