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Open Access Research article

Non-coding RNA ANRIL and the number of plexiform neurofibromas in patients with NF1 microdeletions

Tanja Mußotter1, Lan Kluwe23, Josef Högel1, Rosa Nguyen3, David N Cooper4, Victor-Felix Mautner3 and Hildegard Kehrer-Sawatzki1*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Human Genetics, University of Ulm, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, Ulm, Germany

2 Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

3 Department of Neurology, University Hospital Hamburg Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

4 Institute of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Genetics 2012, 13:98  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-98

Published: 26 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1) is caused by mutations of the NF1 gene at 17q11.2. In 95% of non-founder NF1 patients, NF1 mutations are identifiable by means of a comprehensive mutation analysis. 5-10% of these patients harbour microdeletions encompassing the NF1 gene and its flanking regions. NF1 is characterised by tumours of the peripheral nerve sheaths, the pathognomonic neurofibromas. Considerable inter- and intra-familial variation in expressivity of the disease has been observed which is influenced by genetic modifiers unrelated to the constitutional NF1 mutation. The number of plexiform neurofibromas (PNF) in NF1 patients is a highly heritable genetic trait. Recently, SNP rs2151280 located within the non-coding RNA gene ANRIL at 9p21.3, was identified as being strongly associated with PNF number in a family-based association study. The T-allele of rs2151280, which correlates with reduced ANRIL expression, appears to be associated with higher PNF number. ANRIL directly binds to the SUZ12 protein, an essential component of polycomb repressive complex 2, and is required for SUZ12 occupancy of the CDKN2A/CDKN2B tumour suppressor genes as well as for their epigenetic silencing.

Methods

Here, we explored a potential association of PNF number and PNF volume with SNP rs2151280 in 29 patients with constitutional NF1 microdeletions using the exact Cochran-Armitage test for trends and the exact Mann–Whitney–Wilcoxon test. Both the PNF number and total tumour volume in these 29 NF1 patients were assessed by whole-body MRI. The NF1 microdeletions observed in these 29 patients encompassed the NF1 gene as well as its flanking regions, including the SUZ12 gene.

Results

In the 29 microdeletion patients investigated, neither the PNF number nor PNF volume was found to be associated with the T-allele of rs2151280.

Conclusion

Our findings imply that, at least in patients with NF1 microdeletions, PNF susceptibility is not associated with rs2151280. Although somatic inactivation of the NF1 wild-type allele is considered to be the PNF-initiating event in NF1 patients with intragenic mutations and patients with NF1 microdeletions, both patient groups may differ with regard to tumour progression because of the heterozygous constitutional deletion of SUZ12 present only in patients with NF1 microdeletions.