Background & aims: The DNA mismatch repair gene human MSH2 shows a germline mutation in certain family members with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. There is an increased risk of colorectal cancer in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) with extensive disease of > 8 years' duration; however, specific constitutional predisposing genetic abnormalities have not yet been identified.
Methods: A germline human MSH2 abnormality was sought in patients with UC with high-grade dysplasia or carcinoma.
Results: After direct sequencing of exon 13 and flanking regions of human MSH2, a germline T to C substitution was shown at the -6 intronic splice acceptor site of exon 13. This substitution was found in 14 of 53 patients with UC with high-grade dysplasia or carcinoma (26%) compared with 4 of 36 high-risk patients with UC without dysplasia or cancer (11%) (P < or = 0.04) and in 7 of 80 healthy adult blood donors (9%) (P < or = 0.003). The patients with UC who had the substitution were three times more likely to develop neoplasia than patients with UC who did not carry it.
Conclusions: An intronic splice-site substitution in the human MSH2 gene is present in the general population but may predispose to cancer in the setting of UC.