BMC Cancer: Activating mutation in MET oncogene in familial colorectal cancer
Background: In developed countries, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC) is 5%, and it is the second leading cause of death from cancer. The presence of family history is a well-established risk factor with 25-35% of CRCs attributable to inherited and/or familial factors. The highly penetrant inherited colon cancer syndromes account for approximately 5%, leaving greater than 20% without clear genetic definition. Familial colorectal cancer has been linked to chromosome 7q31 by multiple affected relative pair studies. The MET proto-oncogene which resides in this chromosomal region is considered a candidate for genetic susceptibility.
Methods: MET exons were amplified by PCR from germline DNA of 148 affected sibling pairs with colorectal cancer. Amplicons with altered sequence were detected with high-resolution melt-curve analysis using a LightScanner (Idaho Technologies). Samples demonstrating alternative melt curves were sequenced. A TaqMan assay for the specific c.2975C >T change was used to confirm this mutation in a cohort of 299 colorectal cancer cases and to look for allelic amplification in tumors.
Results: Here we report a germline non-synonymous change in the MET proto-oncogene at amino acid position T992I (also reported as MET p.T1010I) in 5.2% of a cohort of sibling pairs affected with CRC. This genetic variant was then confirmed in the second cohort of individuals diagnosed with CRC and having a first-degree relative with CRC at a prevalence of 4.1%. This mutation has been reported in cancer cells of multiple origins, including 2.5% of colon cancers, and in <1% in the general population. The threonine at amino acid position 992 lies in the tyrosine kinase domain of MET and a change to isoleucine at this position has been shown to promote metastatic behavior in cell-based models. The average age of CRC diagnosis in patients in this study is 63 years in mutation carriers, which is 8 years earlier than the general population average for CRC.
Conclusions: Although the MET p.T992I genetic mutation is commonly found in somatic colorectal cancer tissues, this is the first report also implicating this MET genetic mutation as a germline inherited risk factor for familial colorectal cancer. Future studies on the cancer risks associated with this mutation and the prevalence in different at-risk populations will be an important extension of this work to define the clinical significance.