Identification of novel hereditary cancer genes by whole exome sequencing.

Whole exome sequencing (WES) provides a powerful tool for medical genetic research. Several dozens of WES studies involving patients with hereditary cancer syndromes have already been reported. WES led to breakthrough in understanding of the genetic basis of some exceptionally rare syndromes; for example, identification of germ-line SMARCA4 mutations in patients with ovarian hypercalcemic small cell carcinomas indeed explains a noticeable share of familial aggregation of this disease. However, studies on common cancer types turned out to be more difficult. In particular, there is almost a dozen of reports describing WES analysis of breast cancer patients, but none of them yet succeeded to reveal a gene responsible for the significant share of missing heritability. Virtually all components of WES studies require substantial improvement, e.g. technical performance of WES, interpretation of WES results, mode of patient selection, etc. Most of contemporary investigations focus on genes with autosomal dominant mechanism of inheritance; however, recessive and oligogenic models of transmission of cancer susceptibility also need to be considered. It is expected that the list of medically relevant tumor-predisposing genes will be rapidly expanding in the next few years.

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