Detecting splicing patterns in genes involved in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

Eur J Hum Genet. 2017 Oct;25(10):1147-1154. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2017.116. Epub 2017 Jul 26.


Interpretation of variants of unknown significance (VUS) is a major challenge for laboratories performing molecular diagnosis of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), especially considering that many genes are now known to be involved in this syndrome. One important way these VUS can have a functional impact is through their effects on RNA splicing. Here we present a custom RNA-Seq assay plus bioinformatics and biostatistics pipeline to analyse specifically alternative and abnormal splicing junctions in 11 targeted HBOC genes. Our pipeline identified 14 new alternative splices in BRCA1 and BRCA2 in addition to detecting the majority of known alternative spliced transcripts therein. We provide here the first global splicing pattern analysis for the other nine genes, which will enable a comprehensive interpretation of splicing defects caused by VUS in HBOC. Previously known splicing alterations were consistently detected, occasionally with a more complex splicing pattern than expected. We also found that splicing in the 11 genes is similar in blood and breast tissue, supporting the utility and simplicity of blood splicing assays. Our pipeline is ready to be integrated into standard molecular diagnosis for HBOC, but it could equally be adapted for an integrative analysis of any multigene disorder.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human