Germline Structural Variations in Cancer Predisposition Genes

Front Genet. 2021 Apr 14:12:634217. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2021.634217. eCollection 2021.


In addition to single nucleotide variations and small-scale indels, structural variations (SVs) also contribute to the genetic diversity of the genome. SVs, such as deletions, duplications, amplifications, or inversions may also affect coding regions of cancer-predisposing genes. These rearrangements may abrogate the open reading frame of these genes or adversely affect their expression and may thus act as germline mutations in hereditary cancer syndromes. With the capacity of disrupting the function of tumor suppressors, structural variations confer an increased risk of cancer and account for a remarkable fraction of heritability. The development of sequencing techniques enables the discovery of a constantly growing number of SVs of various types in cancer predisposition genes (CPGs). Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the landscape of germline SV types, detection methods, pathomechanisms, and frequency in CPGs, focusing on the two most common cancer syndromes: hereditary breast- and ovarian cancer and gastrointestinal cancers. Current knowledge about the possible molecular mechanisms driving to SVs is also summarized.

Keywords: cancer–predisposing genes; copy number variation; germline mutation; large genomic rearrangement; structural variation; structural variations.

Publication types

  • Review