Background Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a neurogenetic syndrome due to loss-of-function mutations in TSC2 or TSC1, characterized by tumors at multiple body sites, including facial angiofibroma (FAF). Here, an ultrasensitive assessment of the extent and range of UV-induced mutations in TSC facial skin was performed.Methods A multiplex high-sensitivity PCR assay (MHPA) was developed, enabling mutation detection at extremely low (<0.1%) variant allele frequencies (VAFs).Results MHPA assays were developed for both TSC2 and TP53, and applied to 81 samples, including 66 skin biopsies. UV-induced second-hit mutation causing inactivation of TSC2 was pervasive in TSC facial skin with an average of 4.8 mutations per 2-mm biopsy at median VAF 0.08%, generating more than 150,000 incipient facial tumors (subclinical “micro-FAFs”) in the average TSC subject. The MHPA analysis also led to the identification of a refined UV-related indel signature and a recurrent complex mutation pattern, consisting of both a single-nucleotide or dinucleotide variant and a 1- to 9-nucleotide deletion, in cis.Conclusion TSC facial skin can be viewed as harboring a patchwork of clonal fibroblast proliferations (micro-FAFs) with indolent growth, a small proportion of which develop into clinically observable FAF. Our observations also expand the spectrum of UV-related mutation signatures.Funding This work was supported by the TSC Alliance; the Engles Family Fund for Research in TSC and LAM; and the NIH, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (U01HL131022-04 and Intramural Research Program).
Katarzyna Klonowska, Joannes M. Grevelink, Krinio Giannikou, Barbara A. Ogorek, Zachary T. Herbert, Aaron R. Thorner, Thomas N. Darling, Joel Moss, David J. Kwiatkowski