Variants in the ATM gene associated with a reduced risk of contralateral breast cancer
Cell Cycle Proteins
Neoplasms, Second Primary
Tumor Suppressor Proteins
Between 5% and 10% of women who survive a first primary breast cancer will subsequently develop a second primary cancer in the contralateral breast. The Women's Environment, Cancer, and Radiation Epidemiology Study was designed to identify genetic and environmental determinants of contralateral breast cancer (CBC). In this study, 708 women with asynchronous CBC served as cases and 1,397 women with unilateral breast cancer served as controls. ATM, a serine-threonine kinase, controls the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks, and has been implicated in breast cancer risk. Complete mutation screening of the ATM gene in all 2,105 study participants identified 240 distinct sequence variants; only 15 were observed in >1% of subjects. Among the rare variants, deleterious alleles resulting in loss of ATM function were associated with a nonsignificant increase in risk of CBC. In contrast, carriers of common variants had a statistically significant reduction in risk of CBC. Four of these 15 variants were individually associated with a significantly decreased risk of second primary breast cancer [c.1899-55T>G, rate ratio (RR), 0.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.3-0.8; c.3161C>G, RR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.9; c.5558A>T, RR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.6; c.6348-54T>C RR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.8]. These data suggest that some alleles of ATM may exert an antineoplastic effect, perhaps by altering the activity of ATM as an initiator of DNA damage responses or a regulator of p53.