Does nonsense-mediated mRNA decay explain the ovarian cancer cluster region of the BRCA2 gene?

Oncogene. 2006 Jan 12;25(2):323-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209033.


BRCA2 (BReast CAncer susceptibility gene 2) germline mutation carriers are at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Mutations occurring in the ovarian cancer cluster region (OCCR) are linked to higher ovarian cancer and/or lower breast cancer risk(s) than mutations occurring elsewhere in BRCA2. Most BRCA2 germline mutations introduce premature termination codons (PTCs), making their mRNAs likely targets of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), a mechanism that eliminates PTC-bearing transcripts to prevent expression of truncated proteins. Contradictory evidence exists regarding whether NMD can be triggered by PTCs located far upstream of the nearest exon-exon junction (EEJ). Since the OCCR comprises a major portion of the 4.9 kb exon 11 of BRCA2, we investigated if transcripts bearing PTCs in this large exon are unable to trigger NMD, and if this might contribute to the phenotypic difference associated with the OCCR. We examined cDNA from 18 carriers of PTC-introducing germline mutations located throughout BRCA2, and found that PTC-bearing transcripts were 1.4-3.3-fold less prevalent than their nonmutated counterparts irregardless of PTC position. We conclude that NMD can recognize PTCs up to 4.5 kb upstream of the nearest EEJ, demonstrating that a general inability of NMD to recognize PTCs in exon 11 is unlikely to explain the genotype-phenotype correlation associated with the OCCR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics*
  • Exons / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA Stability
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • RNA, Messenger