New findings published in Nature Communications point to inherited mutations tied to prostate cancer in African American men

Military medical researchers have identified specific inherited, or “germline,” gene mutations associated with prostate cancer development specific to African American men. This discovery could impact cancer screening and prevention and lead to more effective, targeted treatments and better outcomes for individuals who have these mutations. Findings were published in Nature Communications on March 15, 2022.


The study, “Germline mutation landscape of DNA damage repair genes in African Americans with prostate cancer highlights potentially targetable RAD genes” was led by scientists at the Department of Defense’s Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and analyzed the inherited DNA Damage Repair Gene (DDRG) mutations which have not yet been fully defined among African American patients.

In looking at 276 DDRGs within this cohort, researchers at USU’s Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) found a clear racial disparity of germline mutations in the DDRGs across African American and Caucasian men. Twenty-three percent of DDRGs were mutated in African American men, approximately three times greater than what has been reported in previous studies. In particular, a higher percentage of African American men compared to Caucasian men harbored a potentially targetable subset of DDRGs, belonging to the RAD genes. Germline mutations in the DDRGs were associated with poor disease outcome and progression in African American men.

“Through these findings, we may be able to address some of the disparities African American prostate cancer patients endured for such a long time by potentially targeting these newly recognized inherited mutations,” said Dr. Gyorgy Petrovics, a senior scientist with The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine working in support of CPDR. Petrovics is the assistant director of CPDR’s Basic Science Research Program and senior author on the study. “As these are inherited mutations, they are often present in family members, and testing them may help identify others in the family for earlier, even preventive, interventions, as DDRGs are also important for other cancers as well,” Petrovics said.

This project is sponsored by USU; however, the information or content and conclusions do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of, nor should any official endorsement be inferred on the part of, USU, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. HJF administers the funding for the project.