Strong functional data for pathogenicity or neutrality classify BRCA2 DNA-binding-domain variants of uncertain significance

Marcy E. Richardson, Chunling Hu, Kun Y. Lee, Holly LaDuca, Kelly Fulk, Kate M. Durda, Ashley M. Deckman, David E. Goldgar, Alvaro N.A. Monteiro, Rohan Gnanaolivu, Steven N. Hart, Eric C. Polley, Elizabeth Chao, Tina Pesaran, Fergus J. Couch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Determination of the clinical relevance of rare germline variants of uncertain significance (VUSs) in the BRCA2 cancer predisposition gene remains a challenge as a result of limited availability of data for use in classification models. However, laboratory-based functional data derived from validated functional assays of known sensitivity and specificity may influence the interpretation of VUSs. We evaluated 252 missense VUSs from the BRCA2 DNA-binding domain by using a homology-directed DNA repair (HDR) assay and identified 90 as non-functional and 162 as functional. The functional assay results were integrated with other available data sources into an ACMG/AMP rules-based classification framework used by a hereditary cancer testing laboratory. Of the 186 missense variants observed by the testing laboratory, 154 were classified as VUSs without functional data. However, after applying protein functional data, 86% (132/154) of the VUSs were reclassified as either likely pathogenic/pathogenic (39/132) or likely benign/benign (93/132), which impacted testing results for 1,900 individuals. These results indicate that validated functional assay data can have a substantial impact on VUS classification and associated clinical management for many individuals with inherited alterations in BRCA2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-468
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of human genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2021


  • BRCA2
  • breast cancer
  • functional assay
  • predisposition gene
  • variant of uncertain significance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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