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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(6):e1002734. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002734. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Rare copy number variants observed in hereditary breast cancer cases disrupt genes in estrogen signaling and TP53 tumor suppression network.

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Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Department of Clinical Genetics and Biocenter Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in developed countries, and the contribution of genetic susceptibility to breast cancer development has been well-recognized. However, a great proportion of these hereditary predisposing factors still remain unidentified. To examine the contribution of rare copy number variants (CNVs) in breast cancer predisposition, high-resolution genome-wide scans were performed on genomic DNA of 103 BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 mutation negative familial breast cancer cases and 128 geographically matched healthy female controls; for replication an independent cohort of 75 similarly mutation negative young breast cancer patients was used. All observed rare variants were confirmed by independent methods. The studied breast cancer cases showed a consistent increase in the frequency of rare CNVs when compared to controls. Furthermore, the biological networks of the disrupted genes differed between the two groups. In familial cases the observed mutations disrupted genes, which were significantly overrepresented in cellular functions related to maintenance of genomic integrity, including DNA double-strand break repair (P = 0.0211). Biological network analysis in the two independent breast cancer cohorts showed that the disrupted genes were closely related to estrogen signaling and TP53 centered tumor suppressor network. These results suggest that rare CNVs represent an alternative source of genetic variation influencing hereditary risk for breast cancer.

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