Biallelic germline BRCA1 mutations in a patient with early onset breast cancer, mild Fanconi anemia-like phenotype, and no chromosome fragility

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2019 Sep;7(9):e863. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.863. Epub 2019 Jul 25.


Background: Biallelic BRCA1 mutations are regarded either embryonically lethal or to cause Fanconi anemia (FA), a genomic instability syndrome characterized by bone marrow failure, developmental abnormalities, and cancer predisposition. We report biallelic BRCA1 mutations c.181T > G (p.Cys61Gly) and c.5096G > A (p.Arg1699Gln) in a woman with breast cancer diagnosed at the age of 30 years. The common European founder mutation p.Cys61Gly confers high cancer risk, whereas the deleterious p.Arg1699Gln is hypomorphic and was suggested to confer intermediate cancer risk.

Methods and results: Aside from significant toxicity from chemotherapy, the patient showed mild FA-like features (e.g., short stature, microcephaly, skin hyperpigmentation). Chromosome fragility, a hallmark of FA patient cells, was not present in patient-derived peripheral blood lymphocytes. We demonstrated that the p.Arg1699Gln mutation impairs DNA double-strand break repair, elevates RAD51 foci levels at baseline, and compromises BRCA1 protein function in protecting from replication stress. Although the p.Arg1699Gln mutation compromises BRCA1 function, the residual activity of the p.Arg1699Gln allele likely prevents from chromosome fragility and a more severe FA phenotype.

Conclusion: Our data expand the clinical spectrum associated with biallelic BRCA1 mutations, ranging from embryonic lethality to a mild FA-like phenotype and no chromosome fragility.

Keywords: Fanconi anemia; biallelic BRCA1; early onset breast cancer; p.Arg1699Gln.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Alleles
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Chromosome Fragility*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Fanconi Anemia / diagnosis*
  • Fanconi Anemia / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Histones
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype*
  • Rad51 Recombinase / genetics


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • Histones
  • Rad51 Recombinase