Fathers May Pass Ovarian Cancer Risk to Daughters
Scientists have identified a new gene for ovarian cancer risk that may be passed down from fathers to their daughters. However, more studies are needed to confirm the identity and function of the gene, according to the findings published in PLoS Genetics.
Previously, the risk of women getting ovarian cancer has been known to be linked to whether or not their mothers had the disease, through mutations in the BRCA genes. But not all cases can be explained this way.
By examining ovarian cancer risk in 189 women and their grandmothers, the researchers found that the risk of some cases of ovarian cancer was passed down via the X chromosome from the father’s side.
“Our study may explain why we find families with multiple-affected daughters: because a dad’s chromosomes determine the sex of his children, all of his daughters have to carry the same X chromosome genes,” said Dr. Kevin Eng, first author of the study from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Buffalo, New York.
“It’s an all-or-none kind of pattern: A family with three daughters who all have ovarian cancer is more likely to be driven by inherited X mutations than by BRCA mutations.”
Then the researchers looked for which genes might be causing this connection. By searching for changes in the genetic sequence of the X chromosomes of women with ovarian cancer, but without a BRCA mutation, they found mutations in a gene called MAGEC3.
“What we have to do next, is make sure we have the right gene by sequencing more families,’ Dr. Eng continued. “This finding has sparked a lot of discussion within our group about how to find these X-linked families.”
“This research suggests that some women’s risk of ovarian cancer could be passed down through their father’s family, as well as their mother’s, due to newly discovered faulty genes. In future, this could help women with a family history of ovarian cancer better understand their risk of developing the disease. This is important because ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage when it’s harder to treat,” Dr. Catherine Pickworth from Cancer Research UK said, talking to the BBC.