Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS) is an autosomal recessive chromosomal instability syndrome characterized by microcephaly, growth retardation, immunodeficiency, and cancer predisposition. It shares a number of features with the Ataxia telangiectasia (AT) syndrome: the most notable are high sensitivity to ionizing radiation and predisposition to cancer. Recently, the gene responsible for NBS has been identified on chromosome band 8q21. It encodes a DNA double-strand break repair protein, named Nibrin. A truncating 5-bp deletion (657Del5) has been identified in 90% of NBS patients and this is presumed to be of Slavic origin. There is evidence that heterozygous AT mutation carriers are predisposed to breast cancer. Since the NBS phenotype at the cellular level is very similar to AT, we have screened 477 German breast cancer patients, aged under 51 years, and 866 matched controls for the common NBS mutation. We have identified one carrier among the cases and one among the controls, indicating that the population frequency of this NBS mutation is 1 in 866 people (95% CI = 1 in 34,376 to 1 in 156) and the estimated prevalence of NBS is thus 1 in 3 million people. The proportion of breast cancer attributable to this mutation is less than 1%. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 25:393-395, 1999.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.