Mitochondrial DNA mutations in breast cancer tissue and in matched nipple aspirate fluid.

Research paper by Weizhu W Zhu, Wenyi W Qin, Paul P Bradley, Amy A Wessel, Charles L CL Puckett, Edward R ER Sauter

Indexed on: 18 Sep '04Published on: 18 Sep '04Published in: Carcinogenesis


Unlike nuclear (n)DNA, of which there is one paired copy per cell, there are many copies of mitochondrial (mt)DNA per cell, making PCR amplification of mtDNA easier in samples of limited cellularity. The aims of this study were to (i) determine the mutation patterns of breast cancers through a comprehensive screen of mtDNA mutations, and (ii) assess if mutations in the cancers are also detectable in breast nipple aspirate fluid (NAF), a physiologic fluid which contains shed ductal epithelial cells. Fifteen breast cancers, matched benign tissues and NAF were collected. Nine overlapping primer sets were used to sequence the entire mitochondrial genome from tissue samples. For NAF samples, we focused on the 19 nucleotide positions (np) where mutations were found in a 3701 bp region (np 15331 to 2463), which includes the displacement (D)-loop, a mtDNA mutation hot spot. Fourteen of the fifteen (93%) cancer samples had > or =1 somatic mtDNA mutation for a total of 45 at 35 np (9 np reported previously, 26 new). Nine of fifteen tumors had > or =2 mutations. The D-loop contained 17 of 45 (38%) and non-D-loop (coding) regions contained 28 (62%) mutations. Of the 28 mutations in the coding loci, 11 led to an amino acid change. The frequency of mtDNA mutations was higher in the D-loop region (1.5 versus 0.18% of loci). 155 polymorphisms were identified (98 reported previously, 57 new). Sixteen of forty-five (36%) mutations were located at polymorphism sites. Four of nineteen mtDNA mutations in 10 cancers located between np 15331 and 2463 were found in matched NAF (two of eleven mutations in the D-loop and two of eight in non-D-loop regions). No mutations were found in five matched NAF samples from women whose cancers lacked a mutation in the same region. In conclusion, mtDNA mutations in breast cancer occur both within and outside of the D-loop, though the mutation rate in the D-loop is over 7-fold higher than in coding areas. We identified 26 new mutation loci (25 in regions sequenced by others, one in an area not). The high frequency of mtDNA mutations at polymorphic loci requires further investigation. Specific mtDNA mutations can be detected in a subset of NAF samples from women with breast cancer.