Identifying founder mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 in specific populations constitute a valuable opportunity for genetic screening. Several studies from different populations have reported recurrent and/or founder mutations representing a relevant proportion of BRCA mutation carriers. In Latin America, only few founder mutations have been described. We screened 453 Chilean patients with hereditary breast cancer for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. For recurrent mutations, we genotyped 11 microsatellite markers in BRCA1 and BRCA2 in order to determine a founder effect through haplotype analysis. We found a total of 25 mutations (6 novel) in 71 index patients among which, nine are present exclusively in Chilean patients. Our analysis revealed the presence of nine founder mutations, 4 in BRCA1 and 5 in BRCA2, shared by 2 to 10 unrelated families and spread in different regions of Chile. Our panel contains the highest amount of founder mutations until today and represents the highest percentage (78%) of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. We suggest that the dramatic reduction of Amerindian population due to smallpox and wars with Spanish conquerors, a scarce population increase during 300 years, and the geographic position of Chile constituted a favorable scenario to establish founder genetic markers in our population.
Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; Chile; breast cancer; founder mutation.