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Whole-exome sequencing of human pancreatic cancers and characterization of genomic instability caused by MLH1 haploinsufficiency and complete deficiency

Whole-exome sequencing (Exome-Seq) has been successfully applied in several recent studies. We here performed Exome-Seq of 15 pancreatic tumor-normal pairs. We captured 162,073 exons of 16,954 genes and sequenced the targeted regions to a mean coverage of 56 folds. This study identified a total of 1,517 somatic mutations and validated 934 of them by transcriptome sequencing. We detected recurrent mutations in 56 genes. Among them, 41 have not been described. The mutation rates varied widely among tumors. The diversity of mutation rates was significantly correlated with the distinct MLH1 copy-number status. Exome-Seq revealed intensive genomic instability in a tumor with MLH1 homozygous deletion, indicated by a dramatically elevated mutation rate of somatic substitutions, small insertions/deletions (indels), as well as indels presented at microsatellites. Notably, we detected MLH1 allelic loss in 4 tumors. MLH1 expression was decreased by nearly half in these cases. While they were negative in the conventional microsatellite instability assay, they showed a 10.5-fold increase in the mutation rate of somatic indels, e.g. truncating indels in TP53 and TGFBR2, indicating MLH1 haploinsufficiency in correction of DNA indel errors. We further analyzed the exomes of 15 renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) and confirmed MLH1 haploinsufficiency. We observed a significant increase in the mutation rate of somatic indels in affected cases and identified recurrent truncating indels in several cancer genes such as VHL, PBRM1 and JARID1C. Together, our data suggest that MLH1 hemizygous deletion, through increasing the mutation rate of somatic indels, could drive the development and progression of sporadic cancers.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001000042 Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx 30
EGAD00001000043 Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx 16
EGAD00010000050 Affymetrix SNP 6.0 15
EGAD00010000051 Affymetrix SNP 6.0 15
Publications Citations
Whole-exome sequencing of human pancreatic cancers and characterization of genomic instability caused by MLH1 haploinsufficiency and complete deficiency.
Genome Res 22: 2012 208-219
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