BACKGROUND: The patient with 10 or more adenomas in the colon poses a diagnostic challenge. Beside germline mutations in the APC and MUTYH genes, only four cases of mosaic APC mutations have been reported.
AIM: Given the relatively high frequency of de novo APC mutations in familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), an investigation was carried out into whether the proportion of somatic mosaic APC mutations is currently underestimated.
METHODS: Between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 2005 germline mutation analysis was performed in 599 consecutive index patients with polyposis coli referred for diagnostic APC scanning using a combination of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and protein truncation test (PTT). Variants were analysed by direct sequencing with primers flanking those used for DGGE and PTT, and quantified using pyrosequencing.
RESULTS: Scrutinizing the molecular genetic results and family data of 242 index patients with pathogenic APC mutations led to the identification of 10 mosaic cases (4%). C>T transitions were observed in CGA sites in four of the 10 cases with somatic mosaicism, which is significantly more than 26 of the 232 non-mosaic cases (p = 0.02). Phenotypes of patients with somatic mosaicism ranged from an attenuated form of polyposis coli to florid polyposis with major extracolonic manifestations.
CONCLUSIONS: Mosaicism occurs in a significant number of APC mutations and it is estimated that one-fifth of the de novo cases of FAP are mosaic. Clinically, the severity of manifestations in offspring and the recurrence risk for siblings of apparently sporadic polyposis patients may be underestimated due to parental APC mosaicism.