Purpose: Mutations in the BRCA2 gene are dominantly inherited but cause cancers when the wild-type allele has loss of heterozygosity (LOH) within the cancer. Because most disease-associated BRCA2 mutations are protein-truncating mutations, a test for truncated BRCA2 proteins should identify most BRCA2 hereditary cancers. Methods: We have developed a tissue truncation test to identify truncated BRCA2 proteins in breast cancer tissue biopsies in vivo that does not use amplification or genetic manipulations. N-terminal and C-terminal antibodies are used to visualize protein truncation by demonstrating that the beginning of the protein is present but the end (ie, terminus) is absent. Results: A quantitative C-terminal immunostaining score or a C-terminal to N-terminal truncation ratio correctly classified 20 of 21 breast cancers arising in BRCA2 mutation carriers and 57 of 58 cancers arising outside the context of a multiple-case breast cancer family. This represents a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 98%. Because of the presence of C-terminal BRCA2 protein and atypical clinical features of the misclassified cancer in a BRCA2 mutation carrier, we performed polymerase chain reaction and sequence analyses on this cancer. The results showed continued presence of the BRCA2 wild-type allele in the cancer, which indicated that intact BRCA2 protein was present in this cancer. Conclusion: This immunohistochemistry-based test (which takes only 4 hours) appears to identify BRCA2 hereditary cancer with high accuracy. The test also appears to diagnose the biochemical loss of BRCA2 protein in cancers (ie, BRCA2-mutant genotype), which will usually but not always agree with the presence of a germline BRCA2 mutation found by susceptibility testing by DNA sequencing of blood samples.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research