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Hum Genet. 2003 Oct;113(5):452-60. Epub 2003 Aug 26.

Inherited BRCA2 mutations in African Americans with breast and/or ovarian cancer: a study of familial and early onset cases.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Howard University College of Medicine and Cancer Center, Washington DC, USA.


In order to identify the spectrum of BRCA2 mutations in African Americans, breast or ovarian cancer patients from 74 independent families at elevated risk of germline mutations were investigated. The entire coding regions and flanking introns of BRCA2 were screened for germline mutations by single-stranded conformation polymorphism, protein truncation test, or denaturing high performance liquid chromatography followed by DNA sequencing. Eight distinct protein-truncating mutations were detected in six female patients (average age of onset of breast cancer: 37.6 years) and two male patients, but not in 163 unrelated disease-free controls. Two (1993delAA, 8643delAT) of the eight pathogenic mutations observed in African Americans have not been previously described. The other six pathogenic mutations (1882delT, 1991delATAA, 2001delTTAT, 2816insA, 4075delGT, 4088delA) have been detected in Caucasians; only the 2816insA mutation has been reported previously in African Americans. There were no significant differences in the frequency of deleterious BRCA2 mutations in African Americans compared with Caucasians. Six rare variations, not previously reported, were identified in five breast cancer patients but not in 163 disease-free control subjects. Of 11 different polymorphisms identified in high-risk African-American breast cancer patients, four may be unique to African Americans. An intron 10 polymorphism observed in patients was not detected in 163 disease-free African-American control subjects; this difference is statistically significant. Since many different pathogenic mutations and variants of unknown significance are observed in African Americans, BRCA2 genetic testing in high-risk African-American families must include the entire coding and flanking non-coding regions of the gene.

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