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Cancer Res. 2000 Jun 15;60(12):3299-304.

Role for ATM in DNA damage-induced phosphorylation of BRCA1.

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Queensland Institute of Medical Research, The University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.


The human genetic disorder ataxia-telangiectasia is characterized by immunodeficiency, progressive cerebellar ataxia, radiosensitivity, cell cycle checkpoint defects, and cancer predisposition. The gene product [ataxia-telangiectasia mutation (ATM)] mutated in this syndrome is a component of the DNA damage detection pathway. Loss of ATM function in human and mouse cells causes defects in DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control and, not surprisingly, humans and mice with compromised ATM function are prone to cancers. An excess of breast cancer in the relatives of ataxia-telangiectasia patients has also been reported by epidemiological studies. Predisposition to breast and ovarian cancers is also observed in women with germline mutations in BRCA1, a tumor suppressor gene. BRCA1 is a nuclear protein with a cell cycle-regulated expression pattern and is hyperphosphorylated in response to DNA-damaging agents. Here we show that rapid ionizing radiation-induced in vivo phosphorylation of BRCA1 requires the presence of functional ATM protein. Furthermore, we show that ATM interacts with BRCA1, and this association is enhanced by radiation. We also demonstrate that BRCA1 is a substrate of ATM kinase in vitro and in vivo. Using phospho-specific antibodies against serines 1387, 1423, and 1457 of BRCA1, we demonstrate radiation-induced, ATM-dependent phosphorylation of BRCA1 at these sites. These findings show that BRCA1 is regulated by an ATM-dependent mechanism as a part of the cellular response to DNA damage. This interaction between ATM and BRCA1 argues in favor of the involvement of particular aspects of ATM function in breast cancer predisposition.

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