Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), an autosomal dominantly-inherited disorder, is mainly characterized by the occurrence of multiple dermal neurofibromas and is caused by mutations in the NF1 gene, a tumor suppressor gene. The variable expressivity of the disease and the lack of a genotype/phenotype correlation prevents any prediction of patient outcome and points to the action of genetic factors in addition to stochastic factors modifying the severity of the disease. The analysis of somatic NF1 gene mutations in neurofibromas from NF1 patients revealed that each neurofibroma results from an individual second hit mutation, indicating that factors that influence somatic mutation rates may be regarded as potential modifiers of NF1. A mutational screen of numerous neurofibromas from two NF1 patients presented here revealed a predominance of point mutations, small deletions, and insertions as second hit mutations in both patients. Seven novel mutations are reported. Together with the results of studies that showed LOH as the predominant second hit in neurofibromas of other patients, our results suggest that in different patients different factors may influence the somatic mutation rate and thereby the severity of the disease.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.