Aim: To analyze the prevalence of germline MLH1 and MSH2 gene mutations and evaluate the clinical characteristics of Hungarian hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) families. Methods: Thirty-six kindreds were tested for mutations using conformation sensitive gel electrophoreses, direct sequencing and also screening for genomic rearrangements applying multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). Results: Eighteen germline mutations (50%) were identified, 9 in MLH1 and 9 in MSH2. Sixteen of these sequence alterations were considered pathogenic, the remaining two were non-conservative missense alterations occurring at highly conserved functional motifs. The majority of the definite pathogenic mutations (81%, 13/16) were found in families fulfilling the stringent Amsterdam I/II criteria, including three rearrangements revealed by MLPA (two in MSH2 and one in MLH1). However, in three out of sixteen HNPCC-suspected families (19%), a disease-causing alteration could be revealed. Furthermore, nine mutations described here are novel, and none of the sequence changes were found in more than one family. Conclusion: Our study describes for the first time the prevalence and spectrum of germline mismatch repair gene mutations in Hungarian HNPCC and suspected-HNPCC families. The results presented here suggest that clinical selection criteria should be relaxed and detection of genomic rearrangements should be included in genetic screening in this population.
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