Aim: Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) is a cancer susceptibility syndrome caused by E-cadherin germline mutations. One-third of these mutations are of the missense type, representing a burden in genetic counselling. A new germline missense mutation (P373L) was recently identified in a HDGC Italian family. The present work aimed at addressing the disease-causative nature of the P373L mutant.
Methods: Assessment of the P373L mutation effect was based on cell aggregation and invasion assays. LOH analysis at the E-cadherin locus, search for somatic E-cadherin mutations and for promoter hypermethylation were performed to identify the mechanism of inactivation of the E-cadherin wild-type allele in the tumour.
Results: In vitro the P373L germline mutation impaired the E-cadherin functions. E-cadherin promoter hypermethylation was observed in the tumour of the P373L mutation carrier.
Conclusion: We conclude that the combination of clinical, in vitro and molecular genetic data is helpful for establishing an accurate analysis of HDGC-associated CDH1 germline missense mutations and subsequently for appropriate clinical management of asymptomatic mutation carriers.