Somatic Mutations in Vascular Malformations of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia Result in Bi-allelic Loss of ENG or ACVRL1
Daniel A. Snellings, Carol J. Gallione, Dewi S. Clark, Nicholas T. Vozoris, Marie E. Faughnan, Douglas A. Marchuk
Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a Mendelian disease characterized by vascular malformations (VMs) including visceral arteriovenous malformations and mucosal telangiectasia. HHT is caused by loss-of-function (LoF) mutations in one of three genes, ENG, ACVRL1, or SMAD4, and is inherited as an autosomal-dominant condition. Intriguingly, the constitutional mutation causing HHT is present throughout the body, yet the multiple VMs in individuals with HHT occur focally, rather than manifesting as a systemic vascular defect. This disconnect between genotype and phenotype suggests that a local event is necessary for the development of VMs. We investigated the hypothesis that local somatic mutations seed the formation HHT-related telangiectasia in a genetic two-hit mechanism. We identified low-frequency somatic mutations in 9/19 telangiectasia through the use of next-generation sequencing. We established phase for seven of nine samples, which confirms that the germline and somatic mutations in all seven samples exist in trans configuration; this is consistent with a genetic two-hit mechanism. These combined data suggest that bi-allelic loss of ENG or ACVRL1 may be a required event in the development of telangiectasia, and that rather than haploinsufficiency, VMs in HHT are caused by a Knudsonian two-hit mechanism.