Inherited germline mutations in the breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) or BRCA2 genes (herein BRCA1/2) greatly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, presumably by elevating somatic mutational errors as a consequence of deficient DNA repair. However, this has never been directly demonstrated by a comprehensive analysis of the somatic mutational landscape of primary, noncancer, mammary epithelial cells of women diagnosed with pathogenic BRCA1/2 germline mutations. Here, we used an accurate, single-cell whole-genome sequencing approach to first show that telomerized primary mammary epithelial cells heterozygous for a highly penetrant BRCA1 variant displayed a robustly elevated mutation frequency as compared with their isogenic control cells. We then demonstrated a small but statistically significant increase in mutation frequency in mammary epithelial cells isolated from the breast of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers as compared with those obtained from agematched controls with no genetically increased risk for breast cancer.
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