CDH1 gene mutation in early-onset, colorectal signet-ring cell carcinoma

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; General Surgery


Aim: Colorectal signet-ring cell carcinomas (SRCC) are highly malignant tumours with poor prognosis that disproportionately affect younger patients. There is growing evidence of a unique set of molecular features that separate SRCC from conventional colorectal adenocarcinoma. Identification of these distinct features may have diagnostic and prognostic significance for patients and families. CDH1, which encodes E-cadherin, a cell adhesion protein, is commonly mutated in gastric SRCC and our study aimed to identify whether CDH1 mutation was also a common phenomenon in colorectal SRCC.
Methods: DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tumour tissue, the CDH1 gene was analysed by next generation sequencing and the pathogenicity of mutations assessed in silico. Sections cut from the same blocks were immunostained to identify the presence of the E-cadherin protein.
Results: We found 8 CDH1 mutations that meet our inclusion criteria in seven of 11 samples. Of these, five (from four patients), were likely to be germline mutations. E-cadherin staining was absent or markedly reduced in all of the seven samples with CDH1 mutation.
Conclusion: Our finding of CDH1 mutations in a proportion of signet-ring cell carcinomas and associated reduction in E-cadherin in these tumours supports previous findings of a role for mutation of this gene in the development of this disease. In addition, the finding of likely germline mutations suggests that a subset of these tumours may be familial. Loss of E-cadherin staining in the absence of CDH1 mutations however also suggests a role for environmental factors in a subset of these tumours.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Pathology - Research and Practice