Detection of heterozygous truncating mutations in the BRCA1 and APC genes by using a rapid screening assay in yeast

Chikashi Ishioka, Takao Suzuki, Michael Fitzgerald, Michael Krainer, Hideki Shimodaira, Akira Shimada, Tadashi Nomizu, Kurt J. Isselbacher, Daniel Haber, Ryunosuke Kanamaru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The detection of inactivating mutations in tumor suppressor genes is critical to their characterization, as well as to the development of diagnostic testing. Most approaches for mutational screening of germ-line specimens are complicated by the fact that mutations are heterozygous and that missense mutations are difficult to interpret in the absence of information about protein function. We describe a novel method using Saccharomyces cerevisiae for detecting protein-truncating mutations in any gene of interest. The PCR-amplified coding sequence is inserted by homologous recombination into a yeast URA3 fusion protein, and transformants are assayed for growth in the absence of uracil. The high efficiency of homologous recombination in yeast ensures that both alleles are represented among transformants and achieves separation of alleles, which facilitates subsequent nucleotide sequencing of the mutated transcript. The specificity of translational initiation of the URA3 gene leads to minimal enzymatic activity in transformants harboring an inserted stop codon, and hence to reliable distinction between specimens with wild-type alleles and those with a heterozygous truncating mutation. This yeast-based stop codon assay accurately detects heterozygous truncating mutations in the BRCA1 gene in patients with early onset of breast cancer and in the APC gene in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. This approach offers a rapid and reliable method for genetic diagnosis in individuals at high risk for germ- line mutations in cancer susceptibility genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2449-2453
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 18 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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