Analysis of BRCA1 and RAD51C Promoter Methylation in Italian Families at High-Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Medical Genetics, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20122 Milano, Italy
Laboratory of Medical Genetics, IRCCS Ca’ Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico Milano, 20122 Milano, Italy
Unit of Medical Genetics, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, 20133 Milano, Italy
Oncology Department, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, 20156 Milano, Italy
Unit of Research Laboratories coordination, IRCCS Ca’ Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico Milano, 20122 Milano, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Cancers 2020, 12(4), 910; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12040910
Received: 27 February 2020 / Revised: 29 March 2020 / Accepted: 4 April 2020 / Published: 8 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Genetics of Breast and Ovary Cancer)
Previous studies on breast and ovarian carcinoma (BC and OC) revealed constitutional BRCA1 and RAD51C promoter hypermethylation as epigenetic alterations leading to tumor predisposition. Nevertheless, the impact of epimutations at these genes is still debated. One hundred and eight women affected by BC, OC, or both and considered at very high risk of carrying BRCA1 germline mutations were studied. All samples were negative for pathogenic variants or variants of uncertain significance at BRCA testing. Quantitative BRCA1 and RAD51C promoter methylation analyses were performed by Epityper mass spectrometry on peripheral blood samples and results were compared with those in controls. All the 108 analyzed cases showed methylation levels at the BRCA1/RAD51C promoter comparable with controls. Mean methylation levels (± stdev) at the BRCA1 promoter were 4.3% (± 1.4%) and 4.4% (± 1.4%) in controls and patients, respectively (p > 0.05; t-test); mean methylation levels (± stdev) at the RAD51C promoter were 4.3% (± 0.9%) and 3.7% (± 0.9%) in controls and patients, respectively (p > 0.05; t-test). Based on these observations; the analysis of constitutional methylation at promoters of these genes does not seem to substantially improve the definition of cancer risks in patients. These data support the idea that epimutations represent a very rare event in high-risk BC/OC populations.