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  • Author: Petra van der Groep x
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Jonathan G Bijron, Petra van der Groep, Eleonora B van Dorst, Laura M S Seeber, Daisy M D S Sie-Go, René H M Verheijen and Paul J van Diest

BRCA1/2 germ line mutation carriers have a high risk of developing fallopian tube carcinoma (FTC), thought to occur through different early (p53 signatures) and later (dysplasia, intra-epithelial carcinoma) premalignant stages. Promoter hypermethylation of tumour suppressor genes is known to play a key role in (early) carcinogenesis. However, little is known about methylation in normal and (pre)malignant fallopian tube tissue. We identified 14 areas of p53 accumulation in the fallopian tubes of BRCA mutation carriers. Cells from these areas were harvested together with cells from adjacent benign appearing areas. An age-matched non-BRCA sporadic control group (n=13) and eight sporadic FTCs were included as negative and positive controls respectively. Methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification was used to assess promoter methylation of 70 tumour suppressor genes in all samples. We observed a gradual increase in methylation from sporadic control tissue (median cumulative methylation index (CMI) 568.19) through normal tissue and from areas of p53 accumulation in BRCA carriers (median CMI 687.54 and 676.72) to FTC (median CMI 780.97). Furthermore, the methylation percentage of many individual tumour suppressor genes differed significantly between these groups, gradually increasing as for CMI. Between areas with and without p53 accumulation in BRCA mutation carriers no significant differences were found. In this paper, we have shown that BRCA mutation carriers display increased methylation of tumour suppressor genes in their non-malignant fallopian tube epithelium, closer to methylation levels in FTC than to normal sporadic tissue. Methylation could, therefore, play an important role in the increased risk of gynaecological malignancies in BRCA mutation carriers.

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Cathy B Moelans, Joep de Ligt, Petra van der Groep, Pjotr Prins, Nicolle J M Besselink, Marlous Hoogstraat, Natalie D ter Hoeve, Miangela M Lacle, Robert Kornegoor, Carmen C van der Pol, Wendy W J de Leng, Ellis Barbé, Bert van der Vegt, John Martens, Peter Bult, Vincent T H B M Smit, Marco J Koudijs, Isaac J Nijman, Emile E Voest, Pier Selenica, Britta Weigelt, Jorge S Reis-Filho, Elsken van der Wall, Edwin Cuppen and Paul J van Diest

Male breast cancer (MBC) is extremely rare and accounts for less than 1% of all breast malignancies. Therefore, clinical management of MBC is currently guided by research on the disease in females. In this study, DNA obtained from 45 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) MBCs with and 90 MBCs (52 FFPE and 38 fresh-frozen) without matched normal tissues was subjected to massively parallel sequencing targeting all exons of 1943 cancer-related genes. The landscape of mutations and copy number alterations was compared to that of publicly available estrogen receptor (ER)-positive female breast cancers (smFBCs) and correlated to prognosis. From the 135 MBCs, 90% showed ductal histology, 96% were ER-positive, 66% were progesterone receptor (PR)-positive, and 2% HER2-positive, resulting in 50, 46 and 4% luminal A-like, luminal B-like and basal-like cases, respectively. Five patients had Klinefelter syndrome (4%) and 11% of patients harbored pathogenic BRCA2 germline mutations. The genomic landscape of MBC to some extent recapitulated that of smFBC, with recurrent PIK3CA (36%) and GATA3 (15%) somatic mutations, and with 40% of the most frequently amplified genes overlapping between both sexes. TP53 (3%) somatic mutations were significantly less frequent in MBC compared to smFBC, whereas somatic mutations in genes regulating chromatin function and homologous recombination deficiency-related signatures were more prevalent. MDM2 amplifications were frequent (13%), correlated with protein overexpression (P = 0.001) and predicted poor outcome (P = 0.007). In conclusion, despite similarities in the genomic landscape between MBC and smFBC, MBC is a molecularly unique and heterogeneous disease requiring its own clinical trials and treatment guidelines.