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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Nov;118(1):207-11. doi: 10.1007/s10549-008-0189-9. Epub 2008 Sep 21.

A nonsense mutation (E1978X) in the ATM gene is associated with breast cancer.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-St. 1, 30625, Hannover, Germany.


Blood relatives of patients with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) have an increased risk to develop breast cancer. Allelic heterogeneity has made it difficult to confirm the role of ATM, the gene mutated in A-T, for breast cancer susceptibility in the general population. We now report that a nonsense mutation, p.E1978X (c.5932G>T), is both a classical A-T mutation and a breast cancer susceptibility allele in Eastern European populations. In a case-control study from Belarus, the E1978X mutation was identified in 10/1,891 Byelorussian breast cancer cases (0.5%) compared with 1/1,019 population controls [odds ratio (OR): 5.4; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.7-42.4, P = 0.1]. A second case-control study from Russia identified the E1978X mutation in two Russian and one Ukrainian cases out of 611 breast cancer patients but not in any Russian or Ukrainian controls (P = 0.1). In a third case-control study from Poland, E1978X was observed in 7/3,910 Polish breast cancer cases (0.2%) compared with 1/2,010 cancer-free population controls (OR: 3.6; 95% CI: 0.4-29.3, P = 0.4). In the combined analysis, E1978X was significantly associated with breast cancer (Mantel-Haenszel OR: 5.6, 95% CI: 1.3-21.4, P = 0.01). Taken together, this study provides first evidence for the association of a common A-T causing mutation with breast cancer in Eastern European founder populations.

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