Functional evaluation of five BRCA2 unclassified variants identified in a Sri Lankan cohort with inherited cancer syndromes using a mouse embryonic stem cell-based assay

Next-generation sequencing of Sri Lankan families with inherited cancer syndromes resulted in the identification of five BRCA2 variants of unknown clinical significance. Interpreting such variants poses significant challenges for both clinicians and patients. Using a mouse embryonic stem cell-based functional assay, we found I785V, N830D, and K2077N to be functionally indistinguishable from wild-type BRCA2. Specific but mild sensitivity to olaparib and reduction in homologous recombination (HR) efficiency suggest partial loss of function of the A262T variant. This variant is located in the N-terminal DNA binding domain of BRCA2 that can facilitate HR by binding to dsDNA/ssDNA junctions. P3039P is clearly pathogenic because of premature protein truncation caused by exon 23 skipping. These findings highlight the value of mouse embryonic stem cell-based assays for determining the functional significance of variants of unknown clinical significance and provide valuable information regarding risk estimation and genetic counseling of families carrying these BRCA2 variants.

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