Purpose: The molecular mechanism of breast and/or ovarian cancer susceptibility remains unclear in the majority of patients. While germline mutations in the regulatory non-coding regions of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been described, screening has generally been limited to coding regions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of BRCA1/2 non-coding variants.
Methods: Four BRCA1/2 non-coding regions were screened using high-resolution melting analysis/Sanger sequencing or next-generation sequencing on DNA extracted from index cases with breast and ovarian cancer predisposition (3926 for BRCA1 and 3910 for BRCA2). The impact of a set of variants on BRCA1/2 gene regulation was evaluated by site-directed mutagenesis, transfection, followed by Luciferase gene reporter assay.
Results: We identified a total of 117 variants and tested twelve BRCA1 and 8 BRCA2 variants mapping to promoter and intronic regions. We highlighted two neighboring BRCA1 promoter variants (c.-130del; c.-125C > T) and one BRCA2 promoter variants (c.-296C > T) inhibiting significantly the promoter activity. In the functional assays, a regulating region within the intron 12 was found with the same enhancing impact as within the intron 2. Furthermore, the variants c.81-3980A > G and c.4186-2022C > T suppress the positive effect of the introns 2 and 12, respectively, on the BRCA1 promoter activity. We also found some variants inducing the promoter activities.
Conclusion: In this study, we highlighted some variants among many, modulating negatively the promoter activity of BRCA1 or 2 and thus having a potential impact on the risk of developing cancer. This selection makes it possible to conduct future validation studies on a limited number of variants.
Keywords: BRCA1/2 non-coding variants; BRCA1/2 transcription regulation; Breast and/or ovarian cancer risk; Hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer (HBOC).