ARTICLE ABSTRACTTo explore the role of NBN as a pan-cancer susceptibility gene.
Matched germline and somatic DNA samples from 34,046 patients were sequenced using Memorial Sloan Kettering-Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets and presumed pathogenic germline variants (PGV) identified. Allele-specific and gene-centered analysis of enrichment was conducted and a validation cohort of 26,407 pan-cancer patients was analyzed. Functional studies utilized cellular models with analysis of protein expression, MRN complex formation/localization, and viability assessment following treatment with γ-irradiation.
We identified 83 carriers of 32 NBN PGVs (0.25% of the studied series), 40% of which (33/83) carried the Slavic founder p.K219fs. The frequency of PGVs varied across cancer types. Patients harboring NBN PGVs demonstrated increased loss of the wild-type allele in their tumors [OR = 2.7; confidence interval (CI): 1.4–5.5; P = 0.0024; pan-cancer], including lung and pancreatic tumors compared with breast and colorectal cancers. p.K219fs was enriched across all tumor types (OR = 2.22; CI: 1.3–3.6; P = 0.0018). Gene-centered analysis revealed enrichment of PGVs in cases compared with controls in the European population (OR = 1.9; CI: 1.3–2.7; P = 0.0004), a finding confirmed in the replication cohort (OR = 1.8; CI: 1.2–2.6; P = 0.003). Two novel truncating variants, p.L19* and p.N71fs, produced a 45 kDa fragment generated by alternative translation initiation that maintained binding to MRE11. Cells expressing these fragments showed higher sensitivity to γ-irradiation and lower levels of radiation-induced KAP1 phosphorylation.
Burden analyses, biallelic inactivation, and functional evidence support the role of NBN as contributing to a broad cancer spectrum. Further studies in large pan-cancer series and the assessment of epistatic and environmental interactions are warranted to further define these associations.