Open Access Research article

Partial loss of heterozygosity events at the mutated gene in tumors from MLH1/MSH2 large genomic rearrangement carriers

Katarina Zavodna1, Tomas Krivulcik1, Maria Gerykova Bujalkova1, Tomas Slamka2, David Martinicky2, Denisa Ilencikova2 and Zdena Bartosova1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, Vlarska 7, 833 91 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

2 National Cancer Institute, Department of Oncologic Genetics, Klenova 1, 833 01 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:405  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-405

Published: 20 November 2009



Depending on the population studied, large genomic rearrangements (LGRs) of the mismatch repair (MMR) genes constitute various proportions of the germline mutations that predispose to hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). It has been reported that loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the LGR region occurs through a gene conversion mechanism in tumors from MLH1/MSH2 deletion carriers; however, the converted tracts were delineated only by extragenic microsatellite markers. We sought to determine the frequency of LGRs in Slovak HNPCC patients and to study LOH in tumors from LGR carriers at the LGR region, as well as at other heterozygous markers within the gene to more precisely define conversion tracts.


The main MMR genes responsible for HNPCC, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2, were analyzed by MLPA (multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification) in a total of 37 unrelated HNPCC-suspected patients whose MLH1/MSH2 genes gave negative results in previous sequencing experiments. An LOH study was performed on six tumors from LGR carriers by combining MLPA to assess LOH at LGR regions and sequencing to examine LOH at 28 SNP markers from the MLH1 and MSH2 genes.


We found six rearrangements in the MSH2 gene (five deletions and dup5-6), and one aberration in the MLH1 gene (del5-6). The MSH2 deletions were of three types (del1, del1-3, del1-7). We detected LOH at the LGR region in the single MLH1 case, which was determined in a previous study to be LOH-negative in the intragenic D3S1611 marker. Three tumors displayed LOH of at least one SNP marker, including two cases that were LOH-negative at the LGR region.


LGRs accounted for 25% of germline MMR mutations identified in 28 Slovakian HNPCC families. A high frequency of LGRs among the MSH2 mutations provides a rationale for a MLPA screening of the Slovakian HNPCC families prior scanning by DNA sequencing. LOH at part of the informative loci confined to the MLH1 or MSH2 gene (heterozygous LGR region, SNP, or microsatellite) is a novel finding and can be regarded as a partial LOH. The conversion begins within the gene, and the details of conversion tracts are discussed for each case.