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Keywords:

  • hereditary breast and ovarian cancer;
  • BRCA2;
  • RNA splicing regulation;
  • bioinformatics predictions

ABSTRACT

Exonic variants can alter pre-mRNA splicing either by changing splice sites or by modifying splicing regulatory elements. Often these effects are difficult to predict and are only detected by performing RNA analyses. Here, we analyzed, in a minigene assay, 26 variants identified in the exon 7 of BRCA2, a cancer predisposition gene. Our results revealed eight new exon skipping mutations in this exon: one directly altering the 5′ splice site and seven affecting potential regulatory elements. This brings the number of splicing regulatory mutations detected in BRCA2 exon 7 to a total of 11, a remarkably high number considering the total number of variants reported in this exon (n = 36), all tested in our minigene assay. We then exploited this large set of splicing data to test the predictive value of splicing regulator hexamers’ scores recently established by Ke et al. (2011). Comparisons of hexamer-based predictions with our experimental data revealed high sensitivity in detecting variants that increased exon skipping, an important feature for prescreening variants before RNA analysis. In conclusion, hexamer scores represent a promising tool for predicting the biological consequences of exonic variants and may have important applications for the interpretation of variants detected by high-throughput sequencing.