Comparison of BRCA versus non-BRCA germline mutations and associated somatic mutation profiles in patients with unselected breast cancer

Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Feb 24;12(4):3140-3155. doi: 10.18632/aging.102783. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


The data on the phenotypes associated with some rare germline mutations in Chinese breast cancer patients are limited. The difference in somatic mutation profiles in breast cancer patients with germline BRCA and non-BRCA mutations remains unexplored. We interrogated the germline and somatic mutational profile of 524 Chinese breast cancer patients with various stages unselected for predisposing factors using a panel consisting of 520 cancer-related genes including 62 cancer susceptibility genes. We divided the patients into three groups according to germline mutations: Germline-BRCA1/2, Germline-others (non-BRCA) and Others (non-carriers). A total of 58 patients (11.1%) carried 76 likely pathogenic or pathogenic (LP/P) germline variants in 15 cancer predisposition genes. Germline BRCA1/2 mutations were detected from 29 (5.53%) patients; with 11 (2.10%) BRCA1 carriers and 18 (3.44%) BRCA2 carriers. In addition, LP/P germline mutations were detected in other genes including MUTYH (n=4), PALB2 (n=4), ATM (n=3), BRIP1 (n=3), CDH1 (n=3), RAD51C (n=3), CHEK2 (n=2), FANCA (n=2), PMS2 (n=2), TP53 (n=2), FANCI (n=1), FANCL (n=1) and PTEN (n=1). At least one variant of uncertain significance (VUS) was identified in 490 (93.5%) patients. Young age (P=0.011), premenopausal status (P=0.013), and breast/ovarian cancer family history (P=0.001) were correlated with germline mutations. Germline-BRCA1/2 group was detected with more missense (P=0.02) and less copy-number amplification (P=0.04) than Germline-others group. Meanwhile, Germline-others group and Others group are very similar (P>0.05). The mutation rates of AKT1, CCND1, FGFR1, and PIK3CA were different among the three groups. By investigating all breast and ovarian cancer-related genes listed in the US genetic guidelines, we identified 15 cancer susceptibility genes frequently mutated in the germline of our population and must be included in cancer predisposition screening. Our study contributed a better understanding of the tumor characteristics of patients with LP/P germline mutations.

Keywords: BRCA; breast cancer; germline mutations; non-BRCA; somatic mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2 / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group N Protein / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group N Protein
  • PALB2 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • CHEK2 protein, human
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human