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Hum Mol Genet. 2014 May 1;23(9):2440-6. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt639. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Germline mutations in FH confer predisposition to malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

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INSERM, UMR970, Paris-Cardiovascular Research Center, F-75015, Paris, France.


Malignant pheochromocytoma (PCC) and paraganglioma (PGL) are mostly caused by germline mutations of SDHB, encoding a subunit of succinate dehydrogenase. Using whole-exome sequencing, we recently identified a mutation in the FH gene encoding fumarate hydratase, in a PCC with an 'SDH-like' molecular phenotype. Here, we investigated the role of FH in PCC/PGL predisposition, by screening for germline FH mutations in a large international cohort of patients. We screened 598 patients with PCC/PGL without mutations in known PCC/PGL susceptibility genes. We searched for FH germline mutations and large deletions, by direct sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification methods. Global alterations in DNA methylation and protein succination were assessed by immunohistochemical staining for 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) and S-(2-succinyl) cysteine (2SC), respectively. We identified five pathogenic germline FH mutations (four missense and one splice mutation) in five patients. Somatic inactivation of the second allele, resulting in a loss of fumarate hydratase activity, was demonstrated in tumors with FH mutations. Low tumor levels of 5-hmC, resembling those in SDHB-deficient tumors, and positive 2SC staining were detected in tumors with FH mutations. Clinically, metastatic phenotype (P = 0.007) and multiple tumors (P = 0.02) were significantly more frequent in patients with FH mutations than those without such mutations. This study reveals a new role for FH in susceptibility to malignant and/or multiple PCC/PGL. Remarkably, FH-deficient PCC/PGLs display the same pattern of epigenetic deregulation as SDHB-mutated malignant PCC/PGL. Therefore, we propose that mutation screening for FH should be included in PCC/PGL genetic testing, at least for tumors with malignant behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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