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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2004;104(1-4):325-32.

Chromosomal mutagen sensitivity associated with mutations in BRCA genes.

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1
Universitätsklinikum Ulm, Abteilung Humangenetik, Ulm, Germany. guenter.speit@medizin.uni-ulm.de

Abstract

Chromosomal mutagen sensitivity is a common feature of cells from patients with different kinds of cancer. A portion of breast cancer patients also shows an elevated sensitivity to the induction of chromosome damage in cells exposed to ionizing radiation or chemical mutagens. Segregation analysis in families of patients with breast cancer indicated heritability of mutagen sensitivity. It has therefore been suggested that mutations in low-penetrance genes which are possibly involved in DNA repair predispose a substantial portion of breast cancer patients. Chromosomal mutagen sensitivity has been determined with the G2 chromosome aberration test and the G(0) micronucleus test (MNT). However, there seems to be no clear correlation between the results from the two tests, indicating that the inherited defect leading to enhanced G(0) sensitivity is different from that causing G2 sensitivity. Less than 5% of breast cancer patients have a familial form of the disease due to inherited mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 or BRCA2. Heterozygous mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 in lymphocytes from women with familial breast cancer are also associated with mutagen sensitivity. Differentiation between mutation carriers and controls seems to be much better with the MNT than with the G2 assay. Mutagen sensitivity was detected with the MNT not only after irradiation but also after treatment with chemical mutagens including various cytostatics. The enhanced formation of micronuclei after exposure of lymphocytes to these substances suggests that different DNA repair pathways are affected by a BRCA1 mutation in accordance with the proposed central role of BRCA1 in maintaining genomic integrity. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 seem to predispose cells to an increased risk of mutagenesis and transformation after exposure to radiation or cytostatics. This raises a question about potentially increased risks by mammography and cancer therapy in women carrying a mutation in one of the BRCA genes. Lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) from breast cancer patients have been used to study the mechanisms and genetic changes associated with tumorigenesis. With respect to mutagen sensitivity, conflicting results have been reported. In particular enhanced induction of micronuclei does not seem to be a general feature of LCLs with a BRCA1 mutation in contrast to lymphocytes with the same mutation. Therefore, LCLs are of limited utility for studying the mechanisms underlying chromosomal mutagen sensitivity.

PMID:
15162060
DOI:
10.1159/000077511
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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