The American journal of surgical pathology

Abrupt loss of MLH1 and PMS2 expression in endometrial carcinoma: molecular and morphologic analysis of 6 cases.

PMID 25786082


Given that endometrial cancer (EC) is often the sentinel cancer for female Lynch syndrome patients, we have successfully implemented universal screening of ECs and have previously shown that this is the preferred method to identify these patients. However, during the course of universal screening of EC, we encountered 6 cases with an unusual pattern of mismatch-repair protein immunohistochemistry that has not been previously described in this setting. In these 6 cases, there was an abrupt loss of MLH1 and PMS2 expression in a portion of the tumor. In 3 cases, marked histologic differences were identified between the areas of the tumor with retained expression and areas with loss of expression. In 2 cases, the areas with loss of expression were of higher grade (1 demonstrated solid growth and the other demonstrated increased nuclear atypia with diffuse p53 expression). In 4 tumors, histologic features associated with microsatellite instability (MSI) were present, including increased intraepithelial lymphocytes. The areas with loss of and retained MLH1/PMS2 expression were separately microdissected and assessed for MSI and MLH1 promoter methylation. The areas with loss of MLH1 and PMS2 more commonly demonstrated MSI compared with the areas with intact expression (83% vs. 33%). MLH1 promoter methylation analysis demonstrated heterogenous hypermethylation, as all areas with loss of MLH1/PMS2 expression had more extensive methylation of MLH1 compared with those areas with retained expression. In summary, we describe the histologic and molecular features of 6 cases of EC with abrupt loss of MLH1 and PMS2 expression and demonstrate that heterogenous methylation of the MLH1 promoter results in this distinct and unusual pattern of immunohistochemical expression.