Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

DNA repair defects underlie many cancer syndromes. We tested whether de novo germline mutations (DNMs) are increased in families with germline defects in polymerase proofreading or base excision repair. A parent with a single germline POLE or POLD1 mutation, or biallelic MUTYH mutations, had 3-4 fold increased DNMs over sex-matched controls. POLE had the largest effect. The DNMs carried mutational signatures of the appropriate DNA repair deficiency. No DNM increase occurred in offspring of MUTYH heterozygous parents. Parental DNA repair defects caused about 20-150 DNMs per child, additional to the ~60 found in controls, but almost all extra DNMs occurred in non-coding regions. No increase in post-zygotic mutations was detected, excepting a child with bi-allelic MUTYH mutations who was excluded from the main analysis; she had received chemotherapy and may have undergone oligoclonal haematopoiesis. Inherited DNA repair defects associated with base pair-level mutations increase DNMs, but phenotypic consequences appear unlikely.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre and MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genomics and Cancer, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.