MLH1/PMS2-deficient Endometrial Carcinomas in a Universally Screened Population: MLH1 Hypermethylation and Germline Mutation Status

Brett Kurpiel, Martha S. Thomas, Mansoor Mubeen, Kari L. Ring, Susan C. Modesitt, Christopher A. Moskaluk, Anne M. Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


MLH1/PMS2 loss due to epigenetic hypermethylation of the MLH1 promoter is the most common cause of mismatch repair deficiency in endometrial carcinoma, and typically provides reassurance against an associated germline mutation. To further characterize the genetic features of MLH1/PMS2-deficient endometrial cancers, the departmental database was searched for cases with dual MLH1/PMS2 loss and retained MSH2/6 expression which underwent MLH1 hypermethylation testing. Genetic testing results were obtained when available. One hundred seventeen endometrial cancers met inclusion criteria: 100 (85%) were MLH1-hypermethylated, 3 (3%) were low-level/borderline, 7 (6%) were nonmethylated, and 7 (6%) were insufficient for testing. Sixteen cases (12 MLH1-hypermethylated, 3 nonmethylated, and 1 insufficient for testing) underwent germline testing, 6 of which (37.5%) demonstrated germline variants of unknown significance (VUS) (MSH6, PMS2, POLD1, BRIP1, RAD51D, CHEK2) but no known deleterious mutations. Notably, however, the patients harboring the MSH6 and PMS2 germline VUS had clinical features concerning for Lynch syndrome. One nonmethylated, germline-normal case underwent somatic tumor testing, and demonstrated a somatic MLH1 mutation. In summary, MLH1-hypermethylation accounts for the vast majority of MLH1/PMS2-deficient cancers in a universally screened population, although MLH1 somatic and germline mutations can occur. Occasionally, patients with MLH1-hypermethlated tumors also bear germline VUS in other mismatch repair genes as well as genes implicated in other hereditary cancer syndromes, but their clinical relevance is unclear. Family and personal cancer histories must always be evaluated to determine the need for germline testing in women with loss of MLH1/PMS2, even in the setting of hypermethylation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecological Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Lynch syndrome
  • MLH1
  • MLH1 hypermethylation
  • Mismatch repair


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