XPC as breast cancer susceptibility gene: evidence from genetic profiling, statistical inferences and protein structural analysis

Breast Cancer. 2020 Nov;27(6):1168-1176. doi: 10.1007/s12282-020-01121-z. Epub 2020 Jun 19.


Background: Gene polymorphisms that affect nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway may link with higher susceptibility of breast cancer (BC); however, the significance of these associations may vary conferring to the individual ethnicity. Xeroderma pigmentosum complementation gene (XPC) plays a substantial role in recognizing damaged DNA during NER process.

Objective and methods: To estimate the relationship among XPC polymorphisms and breast cancer (BC) risk, we carried out a case-control-association study with 493 BC cases and 387 controls using TETRA-ARMS-PCR. Distributional differences of clinical features, demographic factors and XPC polymorphisms among BC cases and controls were examined by conditional logistic regression model. Kaplan-Meier test was applied to predict survival distributions and protein structure was predicted using computational tools.

Results: Obesity, consanguinity, positive marital status and BC family history were associated (P ≤ 0.01) with higher BC risk. Genotyping revealed significant involvement (P ≤ 0.01) of two XPC polymorphisms rs2228001-A > C (OR = 3.8; CI 1.9-7.6) and rs2733532-C > T (OR = 2.6; CI 1.4-5.03) in BC development, asserting them potential risk factors for increased BC incidence. However, no association (P > 0.05) was detected for overall or progression free survival for both XPC polymorphisms possibly due to shorter follow-up time (45 months). As compared to normal XPC structure, pronounced conformational changes have been observed in the C-terminus of XPCQ939K, bearing rs2228001-A > C substitution. In XPCQ939K, two additional α-helices were observed at A292-E297 and Y252-R286, while L623-M630 and L649-L653 helices were converted into loop conformation.

Conclusion: In conclusion, both XPC polymorphisms confer significant association with increased BC risk. rs2228001 substitution may change the structural and functional preferences of XPC C-terminus, while rs2733532 may have regulatory role thereby leading to potential BC risk.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Overall survival; Progression free survival; Protein structure; XPC polymorphisms.