Clinical case study meets population cohort: Identification of a BRCA1 pathogenic founder variant in Orcadians

Shona M. Kerr, Emma Cowan, Lucija Klaric, Christine Bell, Dawn O'Sullivan, David Buchanan, Joseph J. Grzymsk, Cristopher V. van Hout, Gannie Tzoneva, Alan R. Shuldiner, James F Wilson, Zosia Miedzybrodzka* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We multiply ascertained the BRCA1 pathogenic missense variant c.5207T>C; p.Val1736Ala (V1736A) in clinical investigation of breast and ovarian cancer families from Orkney in the Northern Isles of Scotland, UK. We sought to investigate the frequency and clinical relevance of this variant in those of Orcadian ancestry as an exemplar of the value of population cohorts in clinical care, especially in isolated populations. Oral history and birth, marriage and death registrations indicated genealogical linkage of the clinical cases to ancestors from the Isle of Westray, Orkney. Further clinical cases were identified through targeted testing for V1736A in women of Orcadian ancestry attending National Health Service (NHS) genetic clinics for breast and ovarian cancer family risk assessments. The variant segregates with female breast and ovarian cancer in clinically ascertained cases. Separately, exome sequence data from 2,088
40 volunteer participants with three or more Orcadian grandparents, in the ORCADES research cohort, was interrogated to estimate the population prevalence of V1736A in Orcadians. The effects of the variant were assessed using Electronic Health Record (EHR) linkage. Twenty out of 2,088 ORCADES research volunteers (~1%) carry V1736A, with a common haplotype around the variant. This allele frequency is ~480-fold higher than in UK Biobank participants. Cost-effectiveness of population screening for BRCA1 founder pathogenic variants has been demonstrated at a carrier frequency below the ~1% observed here. Thus we suggest that Orcadian women should be offered testing for the BRCA1 V1736A founder pathogenic variant, starting with those with known Westray ancestry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Jan 2023


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