Mutational spectrum in clinically aggressive low-grade serous carcinoma/serous borderline tumors of the ovary-Clinical significance of BRCA2 gene variants in genomically stable tumors

Gynecol Oncol. 2021 Jun;161(3):762-768. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2021.03.019. Epub 2021 Mar 24.


Objective: The mutational spectra of low-grade serous carcinomas (LGSCs) and serous borderline tumors (SBTs) of the ovary are poorly characterized. We present 17 cases of advanced or recurrent LGSC/SBT patients who underwent molecular profiling.

Methods: Thirteen LGSCs and four SBTs underwent targeted gene panel testing by massively parallel sequencing. Microsatellite stability and tumor mutation burdens (TMBs) were determined based on panel sequencing data.

Results: The mean TMB was 5.2 mutations/megabase (range 3-10) in 14 cases. Twelve of twelve (12/12) cases were microsatellite stable. Clear driver mutations were identified in 11 cases, namely KRAS (5/17), BRAF (2/17), NRAS (2/17) and ERBB2 (2/17). Five cases harbored BRCA2 alterations (allele fractions: 44-51%), including two classified as likely benign/benign variants, and three classified as variants of uncertain significance (VUSs), with two variants being confirmed to be germline. The three BRCA2 VUSs were missense variants that were assessed to be of unlikely clinical significance, based on family cancer history and expected impact on protein function. Two patients received PARP inhibitors during their disease course, with neither of the patients demonstrating appreciable response.

Conclusions: The mutational spectra in 17 clinically aggressive SBT/LGSC cases demonstrate genomically stable tumors, frequently driven by the RTK/RAS/MAPK pathway. While BRCA2 variants were identified, our data demonstrate BRCA2 gene variants are at most VUSs and of dubious clinical significance, in contrast to disease-associated BRCA1/2 variants that may be identified in high-grade serous carcinoma. Germline testing and PARP inhibitors are thus expected to provide limited benefit to patients with LGSC/SBTs.

Keywords: BRCA2; Homologous recombination pathway; Low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma; PARP inhibitor; Serous borderline tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / genetics*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / mortality
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / pathology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pennsylvania
  • Young Adult


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human