Functional classification of DNA variants by hybrid minigenes: identification of 30 spliceogenic variants of BRCA2 exons 17 and 18

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Fraile-Bethencourt, Eugenia
Díez-Gómez, Beatriz
Velásquez-Zapata, Valeria
Acedo, Alberto
Sanz, David J.
Velasco, Eladio A.
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Mutation screening of the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 identifies a large fraction of variants of uncertain clinical significance (VUS) whose functional and clinical interpretations pose a challenge for genomic medicine. Likewise, an increasing amount of evidence indicates that genetic variants can have deleterious effects on pre-mRNA splicing. Our goal was to investigate the impact on splicing of a set of reported variants of BRCA2 exons 17 and 18 to assess their role in hereditary breast cancer and to identify critical regulatory elements that may constitute hotspots for spliceogenic variants. A splicing reporter minigene with BRCA2 exons 14 to-20 (MGBR2_ ex14-20) was constructed in the pSAD vector. Fiftytwo candidate variants were selected with splicing prediction programs, introduced in MGBR2_ ex14-20 by site-directed mutagenesis and assayed in triplicate in MCF-7 cells. Wild type MGBR2_ ex14-20 produced a stable transcript of the expected size (1,802 nucleotides) and structure (V1-[BRCA2_ exons_ 14-20]-V2). Functional mapping by microdeletions revealed essential sequences for exon recognition on the 3 ' end of exon 17 (c. 79447973) and the 5 ' end of exon 18 (c. 7979-7988, c. 7999-8013). Thirty out of the 52 selected variants induced anomalous splicing in minigene assays with > 16 different aberrant transcripts, where exon skipping was the most common event. A wide range of splicing motifs were affected including the canonical splice sites (15 variants), novel alternative sites (3 variants), the polypyrimidine tract (3 variants) and enhancers/silencers (9 variants). According to the guidelines of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG), 20 variants could be classified as pathogenic (c. 7806-2A > G, c. 7806-1G > A, c. 7806-1G > T, c. 7806-1_ 7806-2dup, c. 7976+ 1G > A, c. 7977-3_ 7978del, c. 7977-2A > T, c. 7977-1G > T, c. 7977-1G > C, c. 8009C > A, c. 8331+ 1G > T and c. 8331+ 2T > C) or likely pathogenic (c. 78069T > G, c. 7976G > C, c. 7976G > A, c. 7977-7C > G, c. 7985C > G, c. 8023A > G, c. 8035G > T and c. 8331G > A), accounting for 30.8% of all pathogenic/likely pathogenic variants of exons 17-18 at the BRCA Share database. The remaining 8 variants (c. 7975A > G, c. 7977-6T > G, c. 7988A > T, c. 7992T > A, c. 8007A > G, c. 8009C > T, c. 8009C > G, and c. 8072C > T) induced partial splicing anomalies with important ratios of the full-length transcript (>= 70%), so that they remained classified as VUS. Aberrant splicing is therefore especially prevalent in BRCA2 exons 17 and 18 due to the presence of active ESEs involved in exon recognition. Splicing functional assays with minigenes are a valuable strategy for the initial characterization of the splicing outcomes and the subsequent clinical interpretation of variants of any disease-gene, although these results should be checked, whenever possible, against patient RNA.
Breast cancer susceptibility , Unclassified variants , Splicing assays , Ovarian cancer , Synonymous mutations , Sequence variants , Human genes , Rna , Disease , Guidelines
Fraile-Bethencourt, E., Díez-Gómez, B., Velásquez-Zapata, V., Acedo, A., Sanz, D. J. and Velasco, E. A. (2017) 'Functional classification of DNA variants by hybrid minigenes: identification of 30 spliceogenic variants of BRCA2 exons 17 and 18', PLOS Genetics, 13(3), e1006691 (21pp). doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006691