Background: Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) is a rare autosomal dominantly inherited disease characterized by gastrointestinal hamartomatous polyposis and mucocutaneous pigmentation. The genetic predisposition for PJS has been shown to be associated with germline mutations in the STK11/LKB1 tumor suppressor gene. The aim of the present study was to characterize Hungarian PJS patients with respect to germline mutation in STK11/LKB1 and their association to disease phenotype.Methods: Mutation screening of 21 patients from 13 PJS families were performed using direct DNA sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). Comparative semi-quantitative sequencing was applied to investigate the mRNA-level effects of nonsense and splice-affecting mutations.Results: Thirteen different pathogenic mutations in STK11, including a high frequency of large genomic deletions (38%, 5/13), were identified in the 13 unrelated families studied. One of these deletions also affects two neighboring genes (SBNO2 and GPX4), located upstream of STK11, with a possible modifier effect. The majority of the point mutations (88%, 7/8) can be considered novel. Quantification of the STK11 transcript at the mRNA-level revealed that the expression of alleles carrying a nonsense or frameshift mutation was reduced to 30-70% of that of the wild type allele. Mutations affecting splice-sites around exon 2 displayed an mRNA processing pattern indicative of co-regulated splicing of exons 2 and 3.Conclusions: A combination of sensitive techniques may assure a high (100%) STK11 mutation detection frequency in PJS families. Characterization of mutations at mRNA level may give a deeper insight into the molecular consequences of the pathogenic mutations than predictions made solely at the genomic level.
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