Germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 explain approximately 25% of all familial breast cancers. Despite intense efforts to find additional high-risk breast cancer genes (BRCAx) using linkage analysis, none have been reported thus far. Here we explore the hypothesis that BRCAx breast tumors from genetically related patients share a somatic genetic etiology that might be revealed by array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) profiling. As BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumors can be identified on the basis of specific genomic profiles, the same may be true for a subset of BRCAx families. Analyses used aCGH to compare 58 non-BRCA1/2 familial breast tumors (designated BRCAx) to sporadic (non-familiar) controls, BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumors. The selection criteria for BRCAx families included at least three cases of breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 60 in the family, and the absence of ovarian or male breast cancer. Hierarchical cluster analysis was performed to determine sub-groups within the BRCAx tumor class and family heterogeneity. Analysis of aCGH profiles of BRCAx tumors indicated that they constitute a heterogeneous class, but are distinct from both sporadic and BRCA1/2 tumors. The BRCAx class could be divided into sub-groups. One subgroup was characterized by a gain of chromosome 22. Tumors from family members were classified within the same sub-group in agreement with the hypothesis that tumors from the same family would harbor a similar genetic background. This approach provides a method to target a sub-group of BRCAx families for further linkage analysis studies.

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Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Didraga, M. A., van Beers, E., Joosse, S. A., Brandwijk, K. I. M., Oldenburg, R., Wessels, L. F. A., … Nederlof, P. M. (2011). A non-BRCA1/2 hereditary breast cancer sub-group defined by aCGH profiling of genetically related patients. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 130(2), 425–436. doi:10.1007/s10549-011-1357-x