Mesothelioma developing in carriers of inherited genetic mutations

Yoshie Yoshikawa, Mitsuru Emi, Takashi Nakano, Giovanni Gaudino


Malignant mesothelioma is associated with the exposure to asbestos fibers. Recent discovery of the BAP1 cancer syndrome, a Mendelian disorder with high-penetrance autosomal dominant inheritance fostered the genotyping for nucleotide-level or larger structural alteration of germline DNA. Inherited heterozygous mutations of the BAP1 gene increase the susceptibility to carcinogenic fibers, leading to a concept of gene x environment interaction (GxE) as a pathogenetic mechanism of mesothelioma. Several studies on cohorts of unselected patients with mesothelioma or on familial/early-onset cohorts of mesothelioma cases converged on BAP1 as the more frequent germline mutated gene, followed by other genes involved in DNA repair and homologous recombination. Evidence has been emerging that patients with mesothelioma carrying germline mutations of BAP1 and of other genes, such as those involved in DNA repair and tumor suppressor genes, have better prognosis and higher chemosensitivity when compared with patients with germline wildtype Bap1. We report here a germline genomic analysis targeted 22 genes in a cohort of 101 Japanese patients irrespective of asbestos exposure, age at diagnosis, or personal or family history of cancer. By comparing the results with the Human Genetic Variation Database (HGVD) and the Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD) we selected rare germline variants with a Combined Annotation Dependent Depletion (CADD) >20. We show here that 31 of 101 subjects were carrying 25 rare variants in 14 genes, neither reported in the HGVD nor in the gnomAD database for 14/25 variants. Besides pathogenic variants of BAP1, rare missense variants were found in genes encoding lysine-specific histone methyltransferase SETD2 and SETDB1 and genes encoding subunits of the mSWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. The complete scenario of the genetic background consisting of pathogenic germline variants required for the predisposition and GxE for pathogenesis of mesothelioma appears complex, and further large-scale studies are warranted.