Minigene-based splicing analysis and ACMG/AMP-based tentative classification of 56 ATM variants.
The ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) protein is a major coordinator of the DNA damage response pathway. ATM loss-of-function variants are associated with two-fold increased breast cancer risk. We aimed at identifying and classifying spliceogenic ATM variants detected in subjects of the large-scale sequencing project BRIDGES. A total of 381 variants at the intron-exon boundaries were identified, 128 of which were predicted to be spliceogenic. After further filtering, we ended up selecting 56 variants for splicing analysis. Four functional minigenes (mgATM) spanning exons 4-9, 11-17, 25-29 and 49-52 were constructed in the splicing plasmid pSAD. Selected variants were genetically engineered into the four constructs and assayed in MCF-7/HeLa cells. Forty-eight variants (85.7%) impaired splicing, 32 of which did not show any trace of the full-length (FL)-transcript. A total of 43 transcripts were identified where the most prevalent event was exon/multi-exon skipping. Twenty-seven transcripts were predicted to truncate the ATM protein. A tentative ACMG/AMP (American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics/Association for Molecular Pathology)-based classification scheme that integrates mgATM data allowed us to classify 29 ATM variants as pathogenic/likely pathogenic and 7 variants as likely benign. Interestingly, the likely pathogenic variant c.1898+2T>G generated 13% of the minigene FL-transcript due to the use of a non-canonical GG-5'-splice-site (0.014% of human donor sites). Circumstantial evidence in three ATM variants (leakiness uncovered by our mgATM analysis together with clinical data) provides some support for a dosage-sensitive expression model in which variants producing ≥30% of FL-transcripts would be predicted benign, while variants producing ≤13% of FL-transcripts might be pathogenic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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