University of Oulu

Hereditary predisposition to breast cancer—evaluation of candidate genes

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Author: Rapakko, Katrin1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Genetics
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2007
Publish Date: 2007-05-04
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Auditorium 6 of Oulu University Hospital, on May 16th, 2007, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Nina N. Nupponen
Docent Maija Wessman


In Western countries, breast and ovarian cancer are among the most frequent malignancies affecting women. Approximately 5–10% of the cases in the general population have been suggested to be attributed to inherited disease susceptibility. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the main genes associated with predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. Mutations in these two genes explain a major part of the families displaying a large number of early-onset breast and/or ovarian cancers, but at least one third of the cases appear to be influenced by other, as yet unidentified genes. Therefore, it is likely that defects in other cancer predisposing genes, perhaps associated with lower disease penetrance and action in a polygenic context, will also be discovered.

In the present study, the contribution of germline mutations in putative breast and/or ovarian cancer susceptibility genes, based on their biological function, has been investigated in Finnish breast cancer families. The role of large genomic deletions or other rearrangements in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes was evaluated by Southern blot analysis, and mutation analysis of TP53, RAD51, the BRC repeats of BRCA2, and 53BP1 was performed by conformation sensitive gel electrophoresis and DNA sequencing.

Germline TP53 mutations were searched for in 108 Finnish breast cancer families without BRCA1 or BRCA2 alterations. In this study, the pathogenic TP53 germline mutation, Arg248Gln, was identified in only one family. This family showed a strong family history of breast cancer and other cancers also fulfilling the criteria for Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome. Germline TP53 mutations are expected to be found in cancer families with clinical features seen in Li-Fraumeni or Li-Fraumeni-like syndromes.

In this study, large deletions in BRCA1 and BRCA2 were not observed in 82 breast and/or ovarian cancer families. Likewise, no disease-related aberrations were detected in RAD51, the BRC repeats of BRCA2 or 53BP1 in the 126 breast and/or ovarian cancer families studied. The obtained results were validated by comparing to the occurrence in 288–300 female cancer-free control individuals. These results do not support the hypothesis that alterations in these particular genomic regions play a significant role in breast cancer predisposition in Finland. Thus, there are still genes to be discovered to explain the molecular background of breast cancer.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 978-951-42-8450-2
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-8449-6
Issue: 926
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2007. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.