Germline and Tumor Sequencing as a Diagnostic Tool To Resolve Suspected Lynch Syndrome

J Mol Diagn. 2021 Mar;23(3):358-371. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2020.12.003. Epub 2020 Dec 29.


Patients in whom mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient cancer develops in the absence of pathogenic variants of germline MMR genes or somatic hypermethylation of the MLH1 gene promoter are classified as having suspected Lynch syndrome (SLS). Germline whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and targeted and genome-wide tumor sequencing were applied to identify the underlying cause of tumor MMR deficiency in SLS. Germline WGS was performed on samples from 14 cancer-affected patients with SLS, including two sets of first-degree relatives. MMR genes were assessed for germline pathogenic variants, including complex structural rearrangements and noncoding variants. Tumor tissue was assessed for somatic MMR gene mutations using targeted, whole-exome sequencing or WGS. Germline WGS identified pathogenic MMR variants in 3 of the 14 cases (21.4%), including a 9.5-megabase inversion disrupting MSH2 in a mother and daughter. Excluding these 3 MMR carriers, tumor sequencing identified at least two somatic MMR gene mutations in 8 of 11 tumors tested (72.7%). In a second mother-daughter pair, a somatic cause of tumor MMR deficiency was supported by the presence of double somatic MSH2 mutations in their respective tumors. More than 70% of SLS cases had double somatic MMR mutations in the absence of germline pathogenic variants in the MMR or other DNA repair-related genes on WGS, and, therefore, were confidently assigned a noninherited cause of tumor MMR deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / genetics*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Female
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing* / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Whole Genome Sequencing
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Turcot syndrome