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A SNP in the prohibitin gene may modify breast cancer susceptibility
By Bijal P. Trivedi

A variation located close to the protein-coding region of the prohibitin gene has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in younger women who have at least one first-degree relative with the disease.

The study, led by Eldon Jupe, of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, in Oklahoma City, tested 205 women with breast cancer and 1046 healthy controls for two variants—the C allele and the T allele—of prohibitin.

Jupe's team found that women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer were more likely to carry the T allele. This association between the T allele and breast cancer was stronger in younger women who were diagnosed with the disease before age 50.

Prohibitin, a tumor suppressor gene, is frequently altered in both familial and non-familial cases of breast cancer. In humans and animals, the C variant of the prohibitin protein functions in concert with other proteins to prevent mutated cells from proliferating. In the T variant the tumor suppressing activity has been lost.

"Because the prohibitin T allele is common and the assay is simple and inexpensive to do, prohibitin genotyping has the potential to be an effective screening tool for determining breast cancer-risk in women with first-degree relatives with the disease," write the scientists in the current issue of The Lancet.

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Jupe, E.R. et al. Single nucleotide polymorphism in prohibitin 3' untranslated region and breast-cancer susceptibility. Lancet 357, 1588-1589 (May 19, 2001).

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