Fanconi Anemia - Molecular Biology


Fanconi Anemia (FA) is a rare autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterised clinically by progressive bone marrow failure, skeletal deformities and a predisposition to leukaemia. Affected children usually develop severe aplastic anemia by age 8 to 9 years. The condition is thought to caused by a defect in the processing of DNA damage, patient cells can show extreme chromosomal instability.

There are a number of Fanconi Anemia complementation groups. The two most frequent are group A and group C, which together account for 75-80% of cases. The genes of the Fanconi anemia complementation groups do not share sequence similarity; rather they are related by their assembly into a common nuclear protein complex.

See also: Fanconi Anaemia - clinical resources (16)

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 10 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Mutated Genes and Abnormal Protein Expression (15)

How to use this data tableClicking on the Gene or Topic will take you to a separate more detailed page. Sort this list by clicking on a column heading e.g. 'Gene' or 'Topic'.

-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group D1
FANCD2 3p26 FA4, FAD, FACD, FAD2, FA-D2, FANCD Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group D2
PALB2 16p12.2 FANCN, PNCA3 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group N
FANCC 9q22.3 FA3, FAC, FACC Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group C
FANCA 16q24.3 FA, FA1, FAA, FAH, FA-H, FACA, FANCH Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group A
BRIP1 17q22.2 OF, BACH1, FANCJ Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group J
FANCG 9p13 FAG, XRCC9 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group G
FANCB Xp22.2 FA2, FAB, FACB, FAAP90, FAAP95 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group B
FANCF 11p14.3 FAF Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group F
FANCE 6p22-p21 FAE, FACE Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group E
FANCI 15q26.1 KIAA1794 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group I
FANCM 14q21.2 FAAP250, KIAA1596 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group M
FANCL 2p16.1 POG, PHF9, FAAP43 Germline
-Fanconi Anemia - Complementation Group L
BACH1 21q22.11 BACH-1, BTBD24 -BACH1 and Fanconi Anaemia
RAD51C 17q22 FANCO, R51H3, BROVCA3, RAD51L2 -RAD51C and Fanconi Anaemia

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

FA and Cancer Susceptibility: Latest Research Publications

Brégnard C, Guerra J, Déjardin S, et al.
Upregulated LINE-1 Activity in the Fanconi Anemia Cancer Susceptibility Syndrome Leads to Spontaneous Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Production.
EBioMedicine. 2016; 8:184-94 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fanconi Anemia (FA) is a genetic disorder characterized by elevated cancer susceptibility and pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Using SLX4(FANCP) deficiency as a working model, we questioned the trigger for chronic inflammation in FA. We found that absence of SLX4 caused cytoplasmic DNA accumulation, including sequences deriving from active Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1), triggering the cGAS-STING pathway to elicit interferon (IFN) expression. In agreement, absence of SLX4 leads to upregulated LINE-1 retrotransposition. Importantly, similar results were obtained with the FANCD2 upstream activator of SLX4. Furthermore, treatment of FA cells with the Tenofovir reverse transcriptase inhibitor (RTi), that prevents endogenous retrotransposition, decreased both accumulation of cytoplasmic DNA and pro-inflammatory signaling. Collectively, our data suggest a contribution of endogenous RT activities to the generation of immunogenic cytoplasmic nucleic acids responsible for inflammation in FA. The additional observation that RTi decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine production induced by DNA replication stress-inducing drugs further demonstrates the contribution of endogenous RTs to sustaining chronic inflammation. Altogether, our data open perspectives in the prevention of adverse effects of chronic inflammation in tumorigenesis.

Villalona-Calero MA, Duan W, Zhao W, et al.
Veliparib Alone or in Combination with Mitomycin C in Patients with Solid Tumors With Functional Deficiency in Homologous Recombination Repair.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016; 108(7) [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: BRCA germline mutations are being targeted for development of PARP inhibitors. BRCA genes collaborate with several others in the Fanconi Anemia (FA) pathway. We screened cancer patients' tumors for FA functional defects then aimed to establish the safety/feasibility of administering PARP inhibitors as monotherapy and combined with a DNA-breaking agent.
METHODS: Patients underwent FA functional screening for the presence (or lack) of tumor FancD2 nuclear foci formation on their archival tumor material, utilizing a newly developed method (Fanconi Anemia triple-stain immunofluorescence [FATSI]), performed in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified laboratory. FATSI-negative patients were selected for enrollment in a two-arm dose escalation trial of veliparib, or veliparib/mitomycin-C (MMC).
RESULTS: One hundred eighty-five of 643 (28.7%) screened patients were FATSI-negative. Sixty-one received veliparib or veliparib/MMC through 14 dose levels. Moderate/severe toxicities included fatigue (DLT at veliparib 400mg BID), diarrhea, and thrombocytopenia. Recommended doses are 300mg BID veliparib and veliparib 200mg BID for 21 days following 10mg/m(2) MMC every 28 days. Six antitumor responses occurred, five in the combination arm (3 breast, 1 ovarian, 1 endometrial [uterine], and 1 non-small cell lung cancer). Two patients have received 36 and 60 cycles to date. BRCA germline analysis among 51 patients revealed five deleterious mutations while a targeted FA sequencing gene panel showed missense/nonsense mutations in 29 of 49 FATSI-negative tumor specimens.
CONCLUSIONS: FATSI screening showed that a substantial number of patients' tumors have FA functional deficiency, which led to germline alterations in several patients' tumors. Veliparib alone or with MMC was safely administered to these patients and produced clinical benefit in some. However, a better understanding of resistance mechanisms in this setting is needed.

Matsuzaki K, Borel V, Adelman CA, et al.
FANCJ suppresses microsatellite instability and lymphomagenesis independent of the Fanconi anemia pathway.
Genes Dev. 2015; 29(24):2532-46 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2017 Related Publications
Microsatellites are short tandem repeat sequences that are highly prone to expansion/contraction due to their propensity to form non-B-form DNA structures, which hinder DNA polymerases and provoke template slippage. Although error correction by mismatch repair plays a key role in preventing microsatellite instability (MSI), which is a hallmark of Lynch syndrome, activities must also exist that unwind secondary structures to facilitate replication fidelity. Here, we report that Fancj helicase-deficient mice, while phenotypically resembling Fanconi anemia (FA), are also hypersensitive to replication inhibitors and predisposed to lymphoma. Whereas metabolism of G4-DNA structures is largely unaffected in Fancj(-/-) mice, high levels of spontaneous MSI occur, which is exacerbated by replication inhibition. In contrast, MSI is not observed in Fancd2(-/-) mice but is prevalent in human FA-J patients. Together, these data implicate FANCJ as a key factor required to counteract MSI, which is functionally distinct from its role in the FA pathway.

Risitano AM, Marotta S, Calzone R, et al.
Twenty years of the Italian Fanconi Anemia Registry: where we stand and what remains to be learned.
Haematologica. 2016; 101(3):319-27 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2017 Related Publications
The natural history of Fanconi anemia remains hard to establish because of its rarity and its heterogeneous clinical presentation; since 1994, the Italian Fanconi Anemia Registry has collected clinical, epidemiological and genetic data of Italian Fanconi Anemia patients. This registry includes 180 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Fanconi anemia who have either been enrolled prospectively, at diagnosis, or later on. After enrollment, follow-up data were periodically collected to assess the clinical course, possible complications and long-term survival; the median follow up was 15.6 years. The main goal of the study was to describe the natural history of Fanconi anemia, focusing on the following variables: family history, disease presentation, development of hematological manifestations, development of malignancies, occurrence of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and survival. Typical morphological and/or hematological abnormalities and/or growth retardation were the most common manifestations at diagnosis; the majority of patients (77%) exhibited hematological abnormalities at the initial presentation, and almost all (96%) eventually developed hematological manifestations. More than half of the patients (57%) underwent a bone-marrow transplant. The occurrence of cancer was quite rare at diagnosis, whereas the cumulative incidence of malignancies at 10, 20 and 30 years was 5%, 8% and 22%, respectively, for hematological cancers and 1%, 15% and 32%, respectively, for solid tumors. Overall survival at 10, 20 and 30 years were 88%, 56% and 37%, respectively; the main causes of death were cancer, complications of the hematological presentation and complications of transplantation. These data clearly confirm the detrimental outcome of Fanconi anemia, with no major improvement in the past decades.

Dong H, Nebert DW, Bruford EA, et al.
Update of the human and mouse Fanconi anemia genes.
Hum Genomics. 2015; 9:32 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a recessively inherited disease manifesting developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure, and increased risk of malignancies. Whereas FA has been studied for nearly 90 years, only in the last 20 years have increasing numbers of genes been implicated in the pathogenesis associated with this genetic disease. To date, 19 genes have been identified that encode Fanconi anemia complementation group proteins, all of which are named or aliased, using the root symbol "FANC." Fanconi anemia subtype (FANC) proteins function in a common DNA repair pathway called "the FA pathway," which is essential for maintaining genomic integrity. The various FANC mutant proteins contribute to distinct steps associated with FA pathogenesis. Herein, we provide a review update of the 19 human FANC and their mouse orthologs, an evolutionary perspective on the FANC genes, and the functional significance of the FA DNA repair pathway in association with clinical disorders. This is an example of a set of genes--known to exist in vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and yeast--that are grouped together on the basis of shared biochemical and physiological functions, rather than evolutionary phylogeny, and have been named on this basis by the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC).

Kutler DI, Patel KR, Auerbach AD, et al.
Natural history and management of Fanconi anemia patients with head and neck cancer: A 10-year follow-up.
Laryngoscope. 2016; 126(4):870-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To describe the management and outcomes of Fanconi anemia (FA) patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study.
METHODS: Demographic information, prognostic factors, therapeutic management, and survival outcomes for FA patients enrolled in the International Fanconi Anemia Registry who developed head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) were analyzed.
RESULTS: Thirty-five FA patients were diagnosed with HNSCC at a mean age of 32 years. The most common site of primary cancer was the oral cavity (26 of 35, 74%). Thirty patients underwent surgical resection of the cancer. Sixteen patients received radiation therapy with an average radiation dose of 5,050 cGy. The most common toxicities were high-grade mucositis (9 of 16, 56%), hematologic abnormalities (8 of 16, 50%), and dysphagia (8 of 16, 50%). Three patients received conventional chemotherapy and had significant complications, whereas three patients who received targeted chemotherapy with cetuximab had fewer toxicities. The 5-year overall survival rate was 39%, with a cause-specific survival rate of 47%.
CONCLUSIONS: Fanconi anemia patients have a high risk of developing aggressive HNSCC at an early age. Fanconi anemia patients can tolerate complex ablative and reconstructive surgeries, but careful postoperative care is required to reduce morbidity. The treatment of FA-associated HNSCC is difficult secondary to the poor tolerance of radiation and chemotherapy. However, radiation should be used for high-risk cancers due to the poor survival in these patients.

Belo H, Silva G, Cardoso BA, et al.
Epigenetic Alterations in Fanconi Anaemia: Role in Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Potential.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(10):e0139740 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi anaemia (FA) is an inherited disorder characterized by chromosomal instability. The phenotype is variable, which raises the possibility that it may be affected by other factors, such as epigenetic modifications. These play an important role in oncogenesis and may be pharmacologically manipulated. Our aim was to explore whether the epigenetic profiles in FA differ from non-FA individuals and whether these could be manipulated to alter the disease phenotype. We compared expression of epigenetic genes and DNA methylation profile of tumour suppressor genes between FA and normal samples. FA samples exhibited decreased expression levels of genes involved in epigenetic regulation and hypomethylation in the promoter regions of tumour suppressor genes. Treatment of FA cells with histone deacetylase inhibitor Vorinostat increased the expression of DNM3Tβ and reduced the levels of CIITA and HDAC9, PAK1, USP16, all involved in different aspects of epigenetic and immune regulation. Given the ability of Vorinostat to modulate epigenetic genes in FA patients, we investigated its functional effects on the FA phenotype. This was assessed by incubating FA cells with Vorinostat and quantifying chromosomal breaks induced by DNA cross-linking agents. Treatment of FA cells with Vorinostat resulted in a significant reduction of aberrant cells (81% on average). Our results suggest that epigenetic mechanisms may play a role in oncogenesis in FA. Epigenetic agents may be helpful in improving the phenotype of FA patients, potentially reducing tumour incidence in this population.

Rodríguez A, Torres L, Juárez U, et al.
Fanconi anemia cells with unrepaired DNA damage activate components of the checkpoint recovery process.
Theor Biol Med Model. 2015; 12:19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The FA/BRCA pathway repairs DNA interstrand crosslinks. Mutations in this pathway cause Fanconi anemia (FA), a chromosome instability syndrome with bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition. Upon DNA damage, normal and FA cells inhibit the cell cycle progression, until the G2/M checkpoint is turned off by the checkpoint recovery, which becomes activated when the DNA damage has been repaired. Interestingly, highly damaged FA cells seem to override the G2/M checkpoint. In this study we explored with a Boolean network model and key experiments whether checkpoint recovery activation occurs in FA cells with extensive unrepaired DNA damage.
METHODS: We performed synchronous/asynchronous simulations of the FA/BRCA pathway Boolean network model. FA-A and normal lymphoblastoid cell lines were used to study checkpoint and checkpoint recovery activation after DNA damage induction. The experimental approach included flow cytometry cell cycle analysis, cell division tracking, chromosome aberration analysis and gene expression analysis through qRT-PCR and western blot.
RESULTS: Computational simulations suggested that in FA mutants checkpoint recovery activity inhibits the checkpoint components despite unrepaired DNA damage, a behavior that we did not observed in wild-type simulations. This result implies that FA cells would eventually reenter the cell cycle after a DNA damage induced G2/M checkpoint arrest, but before the damage has been fixed. We observed that FA-A cells activate the G2/M checkpoint and arrest in G2 phase, but eventually reach mitosis and divide with unrepaired DNA damage, thus resolving the initial checkpoint arrest. Based on our model result we look for ectopic activity of checkpoint recovery components. We found that checkpoint recovery components, such as PLK1, are expressed to a similar extent as normal undamaged cells do, even though FA-A cells harbor highly damaged DNA.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that FA cells, despite extensive DNA damage, do not loss the capacity to express the transcriptional and protein components of checkpoint recovery that might eventually allow their division with unrepaired DNA damage. This might allow cell survival but increases the genomic instability inherent to FA individuals and promotes cancer.

Smetsers SE, Velleuer E, Dietrich R, et al.
Noninvasive molecular screening for oral precancer in Fanconi anemia patients.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015; 8(11):1102-11 [PubMed] Related Publications
LOH at chromosome arms 3p, 9p, 11q, and 17p are well-established oncogenetic aberrations in oral precancerous lesions and promising biomarkers to monitor the development of oral cancer. Noninvasive LOH screening of brushed oral cells is a preferable method for precancer detection in patients at increased risk for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), such as patients with Fanconi anemia. We determined the prevalence of LOH in brushed samples of the oral epithelium of 141 patients with Fanconi anemia and 144 aged subjects, and studied the association between LOH and HNSCC. LOH was present in 14 (9.9%) nontransplanted patients with Fanconi anemia, whereas LOH was not detected in a low-risk group (n = 50, >58 years, nonsmoking/nonalcohol history) and a group with somewhat increased HNSCC risk (n = 94, >58 years, heavy smoking/excessive alcohol use); Fisher exact test, P = 0.023 and P = 0.001, respectively. Most frequent genetic alteration was LOH at 9p. Age was a significant predictor of LOH (OR, 1.13, P = 0.001). Five patients with Fanconi anemia developed HNSCC during the study at a median age of 39.6 years (range, 24.8-53.7). LOH was significantly associated with HNSCC (Fisher exact test, P = 0.000). Unexpectedly, the LOH assay could not be used for transplanted patients with Fanconi anemia because donor DNA in brushed oral epithelium, most likely from donor leukocytes present in the oral cavity, disturbed the analysis. Noninvasive screening using a LOH assay on brushed samples of the oral epithelium has a promising outlook in patients with Fanconi anemia. However, assays need to be adapted in case of stem cell transplantation, because of contaminating donor DNA.

Jo U, Kim H
Exploiting the Fanconi Anemia Pathway for Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapy.
Mol Cells. 2015; 38(8):669-76 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Genome instability, primarily caused by faulty DNA repair mechanisms, drives tumorigenesis. Therapeutic interventions that exploit deregulated DNA repair in cancer have made considerable progress by targeting tumor-specific alterations of DNA repair factors, which either induces synthetic lethality or augments the efficacy of conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The study of Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare inherited blood disorder and cancer predisposition syndrome, has been instrumental in understanding the extent to which DNA repair defects contribute to tumorigenesis. The FA pathway functions to resolve blocked replication forks in response to DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs), and accumulating knowledge of its activation by the ubiquitin-mediated signaling pathway has provided promising therapeutic opportunities for cancer treatment. Here, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of FA pathway regulation and its potential application for designing tailored therapeutics that take advantage of deregulated DNA ICL repair in cancer.

Stoepker C, Ameziane N, van der Lelij P, et al.
Defects in the Fanconi Anemia Pathway and Chromatid Cohesion in Head and Neck Cancer.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(17):3543-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Failure to repair DNA damage or defective sister chromatid cohesion, a process essential for correct chromosome segregation, can be causative of chromosomal instability (CIN), which is a hallmark of many types of cancers. We investigated how frequent this occurs in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and whether specific mechanisms or genes could be linked to these phenotypes. The genomic instability syndrome Fanconi anemia is caused by mutations in any of at least 16 genes regulating DNA interstrand crosslink (ICL) repair. Since patients with Fanconi anemia have a high risk to develop HNSCC, we investigated whether and to which extent Fanconi anemia pathway inactivation underlies CIN in HNSCC of non-Fanconi anemia individuals. We observed ICL-induced chromosomal breakage in 9 of 17 (53%) HNSCC cell lines derived from patients without Fanconi anemia. In addition, defective sister chromatid cohesion was observed in five HNSCC cell lines. Inactivation of FANCM was responsible for chromosomal breakage in one cell line, whereas in two other cell lines, somatic mutations in PDS5A or STAG2 resulted in inadequate sister chromatid cohesion. In addition, FANCF methylation was found in one cell line by screening an additional panel of 39 HNSCC cell lines. Our data demonstrate that CIN in terms of ICL-induced chromosomal breakage and defective chromatid cohesion is frequently observed in HNSCC. Inactivation of known Fanconi anemia and chromatid cohesion genes does explain CIN in the minority of cases. These findings point to phenotypes that may be highly relevant in treatment response of HNSCC.

Virts EL, Jankowska A, Mackay C, et al.
AluY-mediated germline deletion, duplication and somatic stem cell reversion in UBE2T defines a new subtype of Fanconi anemia.
Hum Mol Genet. 2015; 24(18):5093-108 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare inherited disorder clinically characterized by congenital malformations, progressive bone marrow failure and cancer susceptibility. At the cellular level, FA is associated with hypersensitivity to DNA-crosslinking genotoxins. Eight of 17 known FA genes assemble the FA E3 ligase complex, which catalyzes monoubiquitination of FANCD2 and is essential for replicative DNA crosslink repair. Here, we identify the first FA patient with biallelic germline mutations in the ubiquitin E2 conjugase UBE2T. Both mutations were aluY-mediated: a paternal deletion and maternal duplication of exons 2-6. These loss-of-function mutations in UBE2T induced a cellular phenotype similar to biallelic defects in early FA genes with the absence of FANCD2 monoubiquitination. The maternal duplication produced a mutant mRNA that could encode a functional protein but was degraded by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. In the patient's hematopoietic stem cells, the maternal allele with the duplication of exons 2-6 spontaneously reverted to a wild-type allele by monoallelic recombination at the duplicated aluY repeat, thereby preventing bone marrow failure. Analysis of germline DNA of 814 normal individuals and 850 breast cancer patients for deletion or duplication of UBE2T exons 2-6 identified the deletion in only two controls, suggesting aluY-mediated recombinations within the UBE2T locus are rare and not associated with an increased breast cancer risk. Finally, a loss-of-function germline mutation in UBE2T was detected in a high-risk breast cancer patient with wild-type BRCA1/2. Cumulatively, we identified UBE2T as a bona fide FA gene (FANCT) that also may be a rare cancer susceptibility gene.

Zhu J, Su F, Mukherjee S, et al.
FANCD2 influences replication fork processes and genome stability in response to clustered DSBs.
Cell Cycle. 2015; 14(12):1809-22 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi Anemia (FA) is a cancer predisposition syndrome and the factors defective in FA are involved in DNA replication, DNA damage repair and tumor suppression. Here, we show that FANCD2 is critical for genome stability maintenance in response to high-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation. We found that FANCD2 is monoubiquitinated and recruited to the sites of clustered DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) specifically in S/G2 cells after high-LET radiation. Further, FANCD2 facilitated the repair of clustered DSBs in S/G2 cells and proper progression of S-phase. Furthermore, lack of FANCD2 led to a reduced rate of replication fork progression and elevated levels of both replication fork stalling and new origin firing in response to high-LET radiation. Mechanistically, FANCD2 is required for correct recruitment of RPA2 and Rad51 to the sites of clustered DSBs and that is critical for proper processing of clustered DSBs. Significantly, FANCD2-decifient cells exhibited defective chromosome segregation, elevated levels of chromosomal aberrations, and anchorage-independent growth in response to high-LET radiation. These findings establish FANCD2 as a key factor in genome stability maintenance in response to high-LET radiation and as a promising target to improve cancer therapy.

Sauter SL, Wells SI, Zhang X, et al.
Oral human papillomavirus is common in individuals with Fanconi anemia.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015; 24(5):864-72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Fanconi anemia is a rare genetic disorder resulting in a loss of function of the Fanconi anemia-related DNA repair pathway. Individuals with Fanconi anemia are predisposed to some cancers, including oropharyngeal and gynecologic cancers, with known associations with human papillomavirus (HPV) in the general population. As individuals with Fanconi anemia respond poorly to chemotherapy and radiation, prevention of cancer is critical.
METHODS: To determine whether individuals with Fanconi anemia are particularly susceptible to oral HPV infection, we analyzed survey-based risk factor data and tested DNA isolated from oral rinses from 126 individuals with Fanconi anemia and 162 unaffected first-degree family members for 37 HPV types.
RESULTS: Fourteen individuals (11.1%) with Fanconi anemia tested positive, significantly more (P = 0.003) than family members (2.5%). While HPV prevalence was even higher for sexually active individuals with Fanconi anemia (17.7% vs. 2.4% in family; P = 0.003), HPV positivity also tended to be higher in the sexually inactive (8.7% in Fanconi anemia vs. 2.9% in siblings). Indeed, having Fanconi anemia increased HPV positivity 4.9-fold (95% CI, 1.6-15.4) considering age and sexual experience, but did not differ by other potential risk factors.
CONCLUSION: Our studies suggest that oral HPV is more common in individuals with Fanconi anemia. It will be essential to continue to explore associations between risk factors and immune dysfunction on HPV incidence and persistence over time.
IMPACT: HPV vaccination should be emphasized in those with Fanconi anemia as a first step to prevent oropharyngeal cancers, although additional studies are needed to determine whether the level of protection it offers in this population is adequate.

Liu GB, Chen J, Wu ZH, Zhao KN
Association of human papillomavirus with Fanconi anemia promotes carcinogenesis in Fanconi anemia patients.
Rev Med Virol. 2015; 25(6):345-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare recessive disorder associated with chromosomal fragility. FA patients are at very high risk of cancers, especially head and neck squamous cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas caused by infection of human papillomaviruses (HPVs). By integrating into the host genome, HPV oncogenes E6 and E7 drive the genomic instability to promote DNA damage and gene mutations necessary for carcinogenesis in FA patients. Furthermore, E6 and E7 oncoproteins not only inhibit p53 and retinoblastoma but also impair the FANC/BRCA signaling pathway to prevent DNA damage repair and alter multiple signals including cell-cycle checkpoints, telomere function, cell proliferation, and interference of the host immune system leading to cancer development in FA patients. In this review, we summarize recent advances in unraveling the molecular mechanisms of FA susceptibility to HPV-induced cancers, which facilitate rational preventive and therapeutic strategies.

Xie J, Kim H, Moreau LA, et al.
RNF4-mediated polyubiquitination regulates the Fanconi anemia/BRCA pathway.
J Clin Invest. 2015; 125(4):1523-32 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
The Fanconi anemia/BRCA (FA/BRCA) pathway is a DNA repair pathway that is required for excision of DNA interstrand cross-links. The 17 known FA proteins, along with several FA-associated proteins (FAAPs), cooperate in this pathway to detect, unhook, and excise DNA cross-links and to subsequently repair the double-strand breaks generated in the process. In the current study, we identified a patient with FA with a point mutation in FANCA, which encodes a mutant FANCA protein (FANCAI939S). FANCAI939S failed to bind to the FAAP20 subunit of the FA core complex, leading to decreased stability. Loss of FAAP20 binding exposed a SUMOylation site on FANCA at amino acid residue K921, resulting in E2 SUMO-conjugating enzyme UBC9-mediated SUMOylation, RING finger protein 4-mediated (RNF4-mediated) polyubiquitination, and proteasome-mediated degradation of FANCA. Mutation of the SUMOylation site of FANCA rescued the expression of the mutant protein. Wild-type FANCA was also subject to SUMOylation, RNF4-mediated polyubiquitination, and degradation, suggesting that regulated release of FAAP20 from FANCA is a critical step in the normal FA pathway. Consistent with this model, cells lacking RNF4 exhibited interstrand cross-linker hypersensitivity, and the gene encoding RNF4 was epistatic with the other genes encoding members of the FA/BRCA pathway. Together, the results from our study underscore the importance of analyzing unique patient-derived mutations for dissecting complex DNA repair processes.

Agarwal R, Liebe S, Turski ML, et al.
Targeted therapy for genetic cancer syndromes: Fanconi anemia, medullary thyroid cancer, tuberous sclerosis, and RASopathies.
Discov Med. 2015; 19(103):101-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
With the advent of genomics-based treatment in recent years, the use of targeted therapies in the treatment of various malignancies has increased exponentially. Though much data is available regarding the efficacy of targeted therapies for common malignancies, genetic cancer syndromes remain a somewhat unexplored topic with comparatively less published literature. This review seeks to characterize targeted therapy options for the following genetic cancer syndromes: Fanconi anemia, inherited medullary thyroid cancer, tuberous sclerosis, and RASopathies. By understanding the pathophysiology of these conditions as well as available molecularly targeted therapies, oncologists, in collaboration with geneticists and genetic counsellors, can begin to develop effective clinical management options and therapy regimens for the patients with these genetic syndromes that they may encounter in their practice.

Roomi MW, Kalinovsky T, Roomi NW, et al.
In vitro and in vivo inhibition of human Fanconi anemia head and neck squamous carcinoma by a phytonutrient combination.
Int J Oncol. 2015; 46(5):2261-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and acute myeloid leukemia are the major causes of mortality and morbidity in Fanconi anemia (FA) patients. The objective of this study was to investigate the antineoplastic activity of PB, an antineoplastic nutrient mixture (containing quercetin, curcumin, green tea, cruciferex and resveratrol) on human FA HNSCC in vitro and in vivo. Human FA HNSCC cell line OHSU-974 (Fanconi Anemia Research Fund) was cultured in RPMI medium supplemented with 20% FBS and anti-biotics. At near confluence, cells were treated in triplicate with different concentrations of PB: 0, 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 µg/ml. Cells were also treated with PMA to induce MMP-9 activity. Cell proliferation was detected by MTT assay, secretion of MMPs by gelatinase zymography, invasion through Matrigel, migration by scratch test and morphology by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. In vivo, athymic male nude mice (n=12) were inoculated with 3x106 OHSU-974 cells subcutaneously and randomly divided into two groups: group A was fed a regular diet and group B a regular diet supplemented with 1% PB. Four weeks later, the mice were sacrificed and their tumors were excised, weighed and processed for histology. NM inhibited the growth of OHSU-974 tumor by 67.6% (p<0.0001) and tumor burden by 63.6% (p<0.0001). PB demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation, with 27% (p=0.0003) and 48% (p=0.0004) toxicity at 75 and 100 µg/ml, respectively. Zymography revealed MMP-2 and PMA-induced MMP-9 secretion. PB suppressed secretion of both MMPs in a dose-dependent manner, with total block of both at 50 µg/ml. PB inhibited cell migration (by scratch test) and OHSU-974 invasion through Matrigel in a dose-dependent fashion with total block at 50 µg/ml. H&E staining showed no morphological changes below 50 µg/ml. The results suggest that PB has potential therapeutic use in the treatment of human FA HNSCC.

Floriano PN, Abram T, Taylor L, et al.
Programmable bio-nanochip-based cytologic testing of oral potentially malignant disorders in Fanconi anemia.
Oral Dis. 2015; 21(5):593-601 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is caused by mutations of DNA repair genes. The risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) among FA patients is 800-folds higher than in the general population. Early detection of OSCC, preferably at it precursor stage, is critical in FA patients to improve their survival. In an ongoing clinical trial, we are evaluating the effectiveness of the programmable bio-nanochip (p-BNC)-based oral cytology test in diagnosing oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMD) in non-FA patients. We used this test to compare cytomorphometric and molecular biomarkers in OSCC cell lines derived from FA and non-FA patients to brush biopsy samples of a FA patient with OPMD and normal mucosa of healthy volunteers. Our data showed that expression patterns of molecular biomarkers were not notably different between sporadic and FA-OSCC cell lines. The p-BNC assay revealed significant differences in cytometric parameters and biomarker MCM2 expression between cytobrush samples of the FA patient and cytobrush samples of normal oral mucosa obtained from healthy volunteers. Microscopic examination of the FA patient's OPMD confirmed the presence of dysplasia. Our pilot data suggests that the p-BNC brush biopsy test recognized dysplastic oral epithelial cells in a brush biopsy sample of a FA patient.

Lombardi AJ, Hoskins EE, Foglesong GD, et al.
Acquisition of Relative Interstrand Crosslinker Resistance and PARP Inhibitor Sensitivity in Fanconi Anemia Head and Neck Cancers.
Clin Cancer Res. 2015; 21(8):1962-72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Fanconi anemia is an inherited disorder associated with a constitutional defect in the Fanconi anemia DNA repair machinery that is essential for resolution of DNA interstrand crosslinks. Individuals with Fanconi anemia are predisposed to formation of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) at a young age. Prognosis is poor, partly due to patient intolerance of chemotherapy and radiation requiring dose reduction, which may lead to early recurrence of disease.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Using HNSCC cell lines derived from the tumors of patients with Fanconi anemia, and murine HNSCC cell lines derived from the tumors of wild-type and Fancc(-/-) mice, we sought to define Fanconi anemia-dependent chemosensitivity and DNA repair characteristics. We utilized DNA repair reporter assays to explore the preference of Fanconi anemia HNSCC cells for non-homologous end joining (NHEJ).
RESULTS: Surprisingly, interstrand crosslinker (ICL) sensitivity was not necessarily Fanconi anemia-dependent in human or murine cell systems. Our results suggest that the increased Ku-dependent NHEJ that is expected in Fanconi anemia cells did not mediate relative ICL resistance. ICL exposure resulted in increased DNA damage sensing and repair by PARP in Fanconi anemia-deficient cells. Moreover, human and murine Fanconi anemia HNSCC cells were sensitive to PARP inhibition, and sensitivity of human cells was attenuated by Fanconi anemia gene complementation.
CONCLUSIONS: The observed reliance upon PARP-mediated mechanisms reveals a means by which Fanconi anemia HNSCCs can acquire relative resistance to the ICL-based chemotherapy that is a foundation of HNSCC treatment, as well as a potential target for overcoming chemoresistance in the chemosensitive individual.

Sawyer SL, Tian L, Kähkönen M, et al.
Biallelic mutations in BRCA1 cause a new Fanconi anemia subtype.
Cancer Discov. 2015; 5(2):135-42 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Deficiency in BRCA-dependent DNA interstrand crosslink (ICL) repair is intimately connected to breast cancer susceptibility and to the rare developmental syndrome Fanconi anemia. Bona fide Fanconi anemia proteins, BRCA2 (FANCD1), PALB2 (FANCN), and BRIP1 (FANCJ), interact with BRCA1 during ICL repair. However, the lack of detailed phenotypic and cellular characterization of a patient with biallelic BRCA1 mutations has precluded assignment of BRCA1 as a definitive Fanconi anemia susceptibility gene. Here, we report the presence of biallelic BRCA1 mutations in a woman with multiple congenital anomalies consistent with a Fanconi anemia-like disorder and breast cancer at age 23. Patient cells exhibited deficiency in BRCA1 and RAD51 localization to DNA-damage sites, combined with radial chromosome formation and hypersensitivity to ICL-inducing agents. Restoration of these functions was achieved by ectopic introduction of a BRCA1 transgene. These observations provide evidence in support of BRCA1 as a new Fanconi anemia gene (FANCS).
SIGNIFICANCE: We establish that biallelic BRCA1 mutations cause a distinct FA-S, which has implications for risk counselling in families where both parents harbor BRCA1 mutations. The genetic basis of hereditary cancer susceptibility syndromes provides diagnostic information, insights into treatment strategies, and more accurate recurrence risk counseling to families.

Malric A, Defachelles AS, Leblanc T, et al.
Fanconi anemia and solid malignancies in childhood: a national retrospective study.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015; 62(3):463-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Fanconi anemia (FA) predisposes to hematologic disorders and myeloid neoplasia in childhood and to solid cancers, mainly oral carcinomas, in early adulthood. Few cases of solid cancers have been reported in childhood.
PROCEDURES: We conducted a national retrospective study of solid tumors occurring in patients registered with or determined to have FA during childhood in France. Phenotypic features, tumor type, cancer treatment, and outcome were analyzed. Whenever available, fresh-frozen tumors were analyzed by microarray-based comparative genomics hybridization.
RESULTS: We identified eight patients with FA with solid tumor from 1986 to 2012. For two patients, the diagnosis of FA was unknown at the time of cancer diagnosis. Moreover, we identified one fetus with a brain tumor. All patients showed failure to thrive and had dysmorphic features and abnormal skin pigmentation. Seven patients had BRCA2/FANCD1 mutations; five of these featured more than one malignancy and the median age at the time of cancer diagnosis was 11 months (range 0.4-3 years). Solid tumor types included five nephroblastomas, two rhabdomyosarcomas, two neuroblastomas, and three brain tumors. Two children died from the toxic effects of chemotherapy, two patients from the cancer, and one patient from secondary leukemia. Only one BRCA2 patient was alive more than 3 years after diagnosis, after tailored chemotherapy.
CONCLUSION: Solid tumors are rare in FA during childhood, except in patients with BRCA2/FANCD1 mutations. The proper genetic diagnosis is mandatory to tailor the treatment.

Wu J, Mu Q, Thiviyanathan V, et al.
Cancer stem cells are enriched in Fanconi anemia head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.
Int J Oncol. 2014; 45(6):2365-72 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) patients have an increased risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) at a higher rate with no apparent risk factors. HNSCC of FA patients is an aggressive tumor characterized by multifocal origin, early metastases and frequent recurrences. Given that cancer stem cells (CSC) drive tumorigenesis, tumor recurrence and metastasis, in this study, we characterized the CSC population in FA and sporadic HNSCC. The Aldefluor assay was used to characterize and isolate CSC with high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity (ALDHpos) in cell lines derived from FA and sporadic HNSCC. Isolated ALDHpos and ALDHneg cells were examined for the expression of stemness genes using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) array. Tumor cell-derived FA and sporadic HNSCC were examined for their ability to form tumorspheres in vitro. Stem-like cell population in FA and sporadic HNSCC in human and mouse xenograft tumors were evaluated using ALDH isoform 1 (ALDH1) immunohistochemistry. FA‑HNSCC cell lines harbor a greater proportion of ALDHpos cells (15-31%) compared to sporadic HNSCC (10%). Expression of Nanog, Oct-3/4 and Stella, molecular markers of undifferentiated embryonic stem (ES) cells were detected in the ALDHpos FA‑HNSCC cells and not in the ALDHneg cells. FA‑HNSCC cell lines revealed enhanced in vitro tumorsphere formation compared to sporadic HNSCC cells. A higher percentage of ALDH1pos tumor cells are noted in the human and mouse xenograft tumors of FA‑HNSCC compared to sporadic HNSCC tumors. FA‑HNSCC are highly enriched for CSC and may serve as a model to develop CSC-targeted therapies for HNSCC.

Grein Cavalcanti L, Fuentes Araújo RL, Bonfim C, Torres-Pereira CC
Oral manifestations compatible with chronic graft-versus-host disease in patients with Fanconi anemia.
Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015; 21(2):275-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetic disease that is characterized by several congenital abnormalities and progressive bone marrow failure and is associated with an increased susceptibility to malignant disorders. Currently, the only potential cure for hematological disorders is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). However, 1 of the most common complications after HSCT is the development of oral chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD), which is also a risk factor for the development of cancer, particularly oral squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence and characteristics of oral manifestations compatible with cGVHD in patients diagnosed with FA according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus criteria. A total of 96 patients (51 females, 45 males; median age, 16 years) with FA, who were in medical follow-up after HSCT at the outpatient clinic of the bone marrow transplantation unit (Hospital de Clínicas from the Universidade Federal do Paraná) underwent an oral evaluation between January 2013 and December 2013. Post-HSCT periods varied from 1 to 261 months and were divided into 3 periods: immediate post-HSCT period; intermediate post-HSC period, and late post-HSCT period. Among the evaluated patients, 40 of 96 (42%) presented with oral manifestations of cGVHD, with 29 of 40 (73%) of these patients in the late post-HSCT period. NIH scale scores varied from 0 to 10, and lichenoid and hyperkeratotic lesions were the abnormalities most frequently observed (100%). Overall, a high prevalence of oral manifestations was observed for cGVHD patients with FA. These data highlight the importance of monitoring oral manifestations compatible with cGVHD to identify and treat individuals with a higher risk of developing oral cancer.

Schneider M, Chandler K, Tischkowitz M, Meyer S
Fanconi anaemia: genetics, molecular biology, and cancer – implications for clinical management in children and adults.
Clin Genet. 2015; 88(1):13-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fanconi anaemia (FA) is an inherited disease with congenital and developmental abnormalities, cross-linker hypersensitivity and extreme cancer predisposition. With better understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of the disease, and improved clinical management, FA has been transformed from a life-limiting paediatric disease to an uncommon chronic condition that needs lifelong multidisciplinary management, and a paradigm condition for the understanding of the gene-environment interaction in the aetiology of congenital anomalies, haematopoiesis and cancer development. Here we review genetic, molecular and clinical aspects of FA, and discuss current controversies and future prospects.

Yin J, Liu H, Liu Z, et al.
Genetic variants in fanconi anemia pathway genes BRCA2 and FANCA predict melanoma survival.
J Invest Dermatol. 2015; 135(2):542-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Cutaneous melanoma (CM) is the most lethal skin cancer. The Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway involved in DNA crosslink repair may affect CM susceptibility and prognosis. Using data derived from published genome-wide association study, we comprehensively analyzed the associations of 2,339 common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 14 autosomal FA genes with overall survival (OS) in 858 CM patients. By performing false-positive report probability corrections and stepwise Cox proportional hazards regression analyses, we identified significant associations between CM OS and four putatively functional SNPs: BRCA2 rs10492396 (AG vs. GG: adjusted hazard ratio (adjHR)=1.85, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.16-2.95, P=0.010), rs206118 (CC vs. TT+TC: adjHR=2.44, 95% CI=1.27-4.67, P=0.007), rs3752447 (CC vs. TT+TC: adjHR=2.10, 95% CI=1.38-3.18, P=0.0005), and FANCA rs62068372 (TT vs. CC+CT: adjHR=1.85, 95% CI=1.27-2.69, P=0.001). Moreover, patients with an increasing number of unfavorable genotypes (NUG) of these loci had markedly reduced OS and melanoma-specific survival (MSS). The final model incorporating with NUG, tumor stage, and Breslow thickness showed an improved discriminatory ability to classify both 5-year OS and 5-year MSS. Additional investigations, preferably prospective studies, are needed to validate our findings.

Furquim CP, Pivovar A, Cavalcanti LG, et al.
Mouth self-examination as a screening tool for oral cancer in a high-risk group of patients with Fanconi anemia.
Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2014; 118(4):440-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Oral cancer usually occurs at accessible sites, enabling early detection by visual inspection. Fanconi anemia (FA) is a recessive disorder associated with a high risk of developing head and neck solid tumors. The aim of this study was to assess the ability to perform mouth self-examination (MSE) in these patients.
STUDY DESIGN: A total of 44 patients with FA, aged ≥ 18 years, were given a self-reported questionnaire to collect sociodemographic data and information about health-related behaviors and oral cancer awareness. They were asked to perform MSE, which was evaluated using criteria for mucosal visualization and retracting ability. Subsequently, an oral medicine specialist clinically examined all participants, and these findings were considered to be the gold standard.
RESULTS: The sensitivity and specificity values of MSE were 43% and 44%, respectively. The MSE accuracy was 43%. Most patients (73%) reported that MSE was easy or very easy, although 75% showed insufficient performance.
CONCLUSIONS: The accuracy of MSE alone is not sufficient to indicate whether MSE should be recommended as a strategy to prevent oral cancer in patients with FA. Nevertheless, the present results indicate that this inexpensive technique could be used as a tool for early detection of cancer in these patients.

Zierhut HA, Tryon R, Sanborn EM
Genetic counseling for Fanconi anemia: crosslinking disciplines.
J Genet Couns. 2014; 23(6):910-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) is the most common of the inherited bone marrow failure syndromes with an incidence of approximately 1/100,000 to 1/200,000 live births. FA is a genetically complex and phenotypically heterogeneous condition involving birth defects, bone marrow failure, and cancer predisposition. This rare disease became well known in the genetic counseling community in 2002, when it was identified that biallelic mutations in BRCA2 can cause FA. Knowledge gained from the growing association between FA and breast cancer pathways has brought even more light to the complex genetic issues that arise when counseling families affected by this disease. Genetic counseling issues surrounding a diagnosis of FA affect many different disciplines. This review will serve as a way to cross-link the various topics important to genetic counselors that arise throughout the life of a patient with FA. Issues covered will include: an overview of FA, phenotypic presentation, management and treatment, the genetics and inheritance of FA, cytogenetic and molecular testing options, and the risks to family members of an individual with FA.

Patil AA, Sayal P, Depondt ML, et al.
FANCD2 re-expression is associated with glioma grade and chemical inhibition of the Fanconi Anaemia pathway sensitises gliomas to chemotherapeutic agents.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(15):6414-24 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer. Around half of primary brain tumours are glioblastoma multiforme (GBMs) where treatment remains a significant challenge, where survival rates have improved little over the last 40 years, thus highlighting an unmet need for the identification/development of novel therapeutic targets and agents to improve GBM treatment. Using archived and fresh glioma tissue, we show that in contrast to normal brain or benign schwannomas GBMs exhibit re-expression of FANCD2, a key protein of the Fanconi Anaemia (FA) DNA repair pathway, and possess an active FA pathway. Importantly, FANCD2 expression levels are strongly associated with tumour grade, revealing a potential exploitable therapeutic window to allow inhibition of the FA pathway in tumour cells, whilst sparing normal brain tissue. Using several small molecule inhibitors of the FA pathway in combination with isogenic FA-proficient/deficient glioma cell lines as well as primary GBM cultures, we demonstrate that inhibition of the FA pathway sensitises gliomas to the chemotherapeutic agents Temozolomide and Carmustine. Our findings therefore provide a strong rationale for the development of novel and potent inhibitors of the FA pathway to improve the treatment of GBMs, which may ultimately impact on patient outcome.

Mantere T, Haanpää M, Hanenberg H, et al.
Finnish Fanconi anemia mutations and hereditary predisposition to breast and prostate cancer.
Clin Genet. 2015; 88(1):68-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mutations in downstream Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway genes, BRCA2, PALB2, BRIP1 and RAD51C, explain part of the hereditary breast cancer susceptibility, but the contribution of other FA genes has remained questionable. Due to FA's rarity, the finding of recurrent deleterious FA mutations among breast cancer families is challenging. The use of founder populations, such as the Finns, could provide some advantage in this. Here, we have resolved complementation groups and causative mutations of five FA patients, representing the first mutation confirmed FA cases in Finland. These patients belonged to complementation groups FA-A (n = 3), FA-G (n = 1) and FA-I (n = 1). The prevalence of the six FA causing mutations was then studied in breast (n = 1840) and prostate (n = 565) cancer cohorts, and in matched controls (n = 1176 females, n = 469 males). All mutations were recurrent, but no significant association with cancer susceptibility was observed for any: the prevalence of FANCI c.2957_2969del and c.3041G>A mutations was even highest in healthy males (1.7%). This strengthens the exclusive role of downstream genes in cancer predisposition. From a clinical point of view, current results provide fundamental information of the mutations to be tested first in all suspected FA cases in Finland.

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