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Comprehensive Cohort Analysis of Mutational Spectrum in Early Onset Breast Cancer Patients


Early onset breast cancer (EOBC), diagnosed at age ~40 or younger, is associated with a poorer prognosis and higher mortality rate compared to breast cancer diagnosed at age 50 or older. EOBC poses a serious threat to public health and requires in-depth investigation. We studied a cohort comprising 90 Taiwanese female patients, aiming to unravel the underlying mechanisms of EOBC etiopathogenesis. Sequence data generated by whole-exome sequencing (WES) and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) from white blood cell (WBC)-tumor pairs were analyzed to identify somatic missense mutations, copy number variations (CNVs) and germline missense mutations. Similar to regular breast cancer, the key somatic mutation-susceptibility genes of EOBC include TP53 (40% prevalence), PIK3CA (37%), GATA3 (17%) and KMT2C (17%), which are frequently reported in breast cancer; however, the structural protein-coding genes MUC17 (19%), FLG (16%) and NEBL (11%) show a significantly higher prevalence in EOBC. Furthermore, the top 2 genes harboring EOBC germline mutations, MUC16 (19%) and KRT18 (19%), encode structural proteins. Compared to conventional breast cancer, an unexpectedly higher number of EOBC susceptibility genes encode structural proteins. We suspect that mutations in structural proteins may increase physical permeability to environmental hormones and carcinogens and cause breast cancer to occur at a young age.

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