Breast Cancer Research & Treatment: Germline mutations in PALB2 in African-American breast cancer cases
Breast cancer incidence is lower in African Americans than in Caucasian Americans. However, African-American women have higher breast cancer mortality rates and tend to be diagnosed with the earlier-onset disease. Identifying factors correlated to the racial/ethnic variation in the epidemiology of breast cancer may provide a better understanding of the more aggressive disease at diagnosis. Truncating germline mutations in PALB2 have been identified in approximately 1% of early-onset and/or familial breast cancer cases. To date, PALB2 mutation testing has not been performed in African-American breast cancer cases. We screened for germline mutations in PALB2 in 139 African-American breast cases by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography and direct sequencing. Twelve variants were identified in these cases and none caused truncation of the protein. Three missense variants, including two rare variants (P8L and T300I) and one common variant (P210L), were predicted to be pathogenic, and were located in a coiled-coil domain of PALB2 required for RAD51- and BRCA1-binding. We investigated and found no significant association between the P210L variant and breast cancer risk in a small case-control study of African-American women. This study adds to the literature that PALB2 mutations, although rare, appear to play a role in breast cancer in all populations investigated to date.