Germ-line mutations in BRCA1 cause a substantial proportion of inherited breast cancer, and most result in inactivated BRCA1 proteins upon translation. Tumours developing in BRCA1 mutation carriers generally show loss of the wild-type allele. However, acquired inactivating mutations in BRCA1 in non-inherited breast tumours showing loss of heterozygosity at the gene locus have not been detected so far. Here we provide evidence that such mutations can be detected in a small proportion of breast tumours. Prompted by recent reports of Alu-mediated large genomic rearrangements in BRCA1, we have investigated whether such rearrangements might occur in sporadic breast cancer as well and have been missed thus far by traditional PCR-based mutation screening technology. To this end, we performed Southern blot analysis of 81 apparently sporadic breast tumours using probes covering exons 6-24 and 3 restriction enzymes. We identified 1 case with an acquired rearrangement (1.2%), indicating that BRCA1 inactivation through changes in the primary genomic sequence of the gene is uncommon in breast cancer. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 27:295-302, 2000.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.