Molecular pathologic analysis enhances the diagnosis and management of Muir-Torre syndrome and gives insight into its underlying molecular pathogenesis

Am J Surg Pathol. 2001 Jul;25(7):936-41. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200107000-00013.


The Muir-Torre syndrome (MTS) is an autosomal dominantly inherited disorder, characterized by visceral malignancies and sebaceous skin lesions. In a subset of MTS families the disease is due to an underlying DNA mismatch-repair defect. We have identified a MTS family whose spectrum of reported neoplasia included adenocarcinomas of numerous gastrointestinal sites, carcinomas of the endometrium, ovary and breast, papillary transitional cell carcinoma of the ureter, a range of cutaneous tumors, as well as keratoacanthomas. All tumors were tested for microsatellite instability and immunohistochemically stained for expression of MLH1 and MSH2 proteins. All tumors were found to be microsatellite unstable and lacking in MSH2 protein expression. The subsequent mutation detection focused on hMSH2, and a germline mutation was identified (CAA-->TAA, Gln-->STOP, codon 337). This mutation was subsequently found in a family member with a single skin lesion only. We propose that the combination of immunohistologic and microsatellite instability analysis can be exploited to screen individuals with characteristic skin lesions even before development of visceral tumors and to direct the subsequent germline mutation search. The profile of microsatellite instability and the genes rendered dysfunctional differed between tumor samples, suggesting that the molecular pathogenesis varied between lesions, despite a common germline mutation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Female
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Middle Aged
  • MutS Homolog 2 Protein
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / diagnosis*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / therapy
  • Pedigree
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / therapy
  • Viscera


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • MSH2 protein, human
  • MutS Homolog 2 Protein