Quantitative copy number analysis by Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) of BRCA1-associated breast cancer regions identifies BRCAness.



Our group has previously employed array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH) to assess the genomic patterns of BRCA1-mutated breast cancers. We have shown that the so-called BRCA1-like(aCGH) profile is also present in about half of all triple-negative sporadic breast cancers and is predictive for benefit from intensified alkylating chemotherapy. As aCGH is a rather complex method, we translated the BRCA1(aCGH) profile to a Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) assay, to identify both BRCA1-mutated breast cancers and sporadic cases with a BRCA1-like(aCGH) profile.


The most important genomic regions of the original aCGH based classifier (3q22-27, 5q12-14, 6p23-22, 12p13, 12q21-23, 13q31-34) were mapped to a set of 34 MLPA probes. The training set consisted of 39 BRCA1-like(aCGH) breast cancers and 45 non-BRCA1-like(aCGH) breast cancers, which had previously been analyzed by aCGH. The BRCA1-like(aCGH) group consisted of germline BRCA1-mutated cases and sporadic tumours with low BRCA1 gene expression and/or BRCA1 promoter methylation. We trained a shrunken centroids classifier on the training set and validation was performed on an independent test set of 40 BRCA1-like(aCGH) breast cancers and 32 non-BRCA1-like(aCGH) breast cancer tumours. In addition, we validated the set prospectively on 69 new triple-negative tumours.


BRCAness in the training set of 84 tumours could accurately be predicted by prediction analysis of microarrays (PAM) (accuracy 94%). Application of this classifier on the independent validation set correctly predicted BRCA-like status of 62 out of 72 breast tumours (86%). Sensitivity and specificity were 85% and 87%, respectively. When the MLPA-test was subsequently applied to 46 breast tumour samples from a randomized clinical trial, the same survival benefit for BRCA1-like tumours associated with intensified alkylating chemotherapy was shown as was previously reported using the aCGH assay.


Since the MLPA assay can identify BRCA1-deficient breast cancer patients, this method could be applied both for clinical genetic testing and as a predictor of treatment benefit. BRCA1-like tumours are highly sensitive to chemotherapy with DNA damaging agents, and most likely to poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP)-inhibitors. The MLPA assay is rapid and robust, can easily be multiplexed, and works well with DNA derived from paraffin-embedded tissues.

More about this publication

Breast cancer research : BCR
  • Volume 13
  • Issue nr. 5
  • Pages R107
  • Publication date 27-10-2011

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