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J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 4;275(31):23899-903.

The breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 is required for subnuclear assembly of Rad51 and survival following treatment with the DNA cross-linking agent cisplatin.

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Department of Radiation & Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Mutations in breast cancer tumor susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, predispose women to early onset breast cancer and other malignancies. The Brca genes are involved in multiple cellular processes in response to DNA damage including checkpoint activation, gene transcription, and DNA repair. Biochemical interaction with the recombinational repair protein Rad51 (Scully, R., Chen, J., Ochs, R. L., Keegan, K., Hoekstra, M., Feunteun, J., and Livingston, D. M. (1997) Cell 90, 425-435), as well as genetic evidence (Moynahan, M. E., Chiu, J. W., Koller, B. H., and Jasin, M. (1999) Mol. Cell 4, 511-518 and Snouwaert, J. N., Gowen, L. C., Latour, A. M., Mohn, A. R., Xiao, A., DiBiase, L., and Koller, B. H. (1999) Oncogene 18, 7900-7907), demonstrates that Brca1 is involved in recombinational repair of DNA double strand breaks. Using isogenic Brca1(+/+) and brca1(-/-) mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines, we investigated the role of Brca1 in the cellular response to two different categories of DNA damage: x-ray induced damage and cross-linking damage caused by the chemotherapeutic agent, cisplatinum. Immunoflourescence studies with normal and brca1(-/-) mutant mouse ES cell lines indicate that Brca1 promotes assembly of subnuclear Rad51 foci following both types of DNA damage. These foci are likely to be oligomeric complexes of Rad51 engaged in repair of DNA lesions or in processes that allow cells to tolerate such lesions during DNA replication. Clonogenic assays show that brca1(-/-) mutants are 5-fold more sensitive to cisplatinum compared with wild-type cells. Our studies suggest that Brca1 contributes to damage repair and/or tolerance by promoting assembly of Rad51. This function appears to be shared with Brca2.

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