Identification of abrogated pathways in fallopian tube epithelium from BRCA1 mutation carriers

J Pathol. 2011 Sep;225(1):106-17. doi: 10.1002/path.2927. Epub 2011 Jul 8.


The discovery of occult invasive and intra-epithelial tubal carcinomas in BRCA1 mutation carriers undergoing prophylactic surgery has implicated the fallopian tube epithelium as the source of serous cancer. However, little is known of the early molecular events of serous oncogenesis, or why cancers in BRCA1 mutation carriers are found preferentially in tissues which are responsive to reproductive hormones. We hypothesize that molecular alterations present in morphologically normal tubal epithelium from BRCA1 heterozygotes reflect the earliest events in serous carcinogenesis and may be markers of increased cancer risk as well as targets for risk reduction. Genetic profiling of microdissected tubal epithelium from histologically normal BRCA1 mutation carriers and controls was performed. We sought to define a signature which differentiated BRCA1 mutant tubal epithelium from women with low risk of developing ovarian cancer. Molecular differences between the follicular and luteal phases were prominent and, by using filtering techniques and a two-way ANOVA without a False Discovery Rate correction, we identified 440 probe sets with a more than two-fold change in gene expression related to BRCA1 mutation status. Using gene ontology and known associations to cancer pathways, we selected five genes for further analysis by qPCR and immunohistochemistry, and were able to demonstrate statistically significant differentiation of BRCA1 and control cases in an independent set of cases. The altered expression profiles in histologically normal tubal epithelium from BRCA1 heterozygotes suggest that these cells may respond differently to microenvironmental stresses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / genetics*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Fallopian Tube Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Fallopian Tubes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase / physiology
  • Microdissection / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics*
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics