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Oncogene. 2001 Dec 13;20(57):8215-35.

Mutant BRCA1 genes antagonize phenotype of wild-type BRCA1.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, The Long Island Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 270-05 76th Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY 11040, USA.


Unregulated expression of wild-type BRCA1 (wtBRCA1) confers an altered phenotype in cultured human prostate cancer cells, characterized by chemosensitivity, susceptibility to apoptosis, decreased DNA repair activity, and alterations of key cell regulatory proteins. We now report that the expression of truncated or mutant full-length BRCA1 genes can abrogate certain phenotypic characteristics and/or confer the opposite phenotype to the wild-type BRCA1 gene. In particular, several carboxyl-terminal truncated BRCA1 proteins conferred chemoresistance, decreased susceptibility to apoptosis, and decreased ability to suppress in vivo tumor growth. These truncated BRCA1 proteins also blocked the ability of ectopically expressed wtBRCA1 to induce chemosensitivity and to inhibit estrogen receptor transcriptional activity. Studies using epitope-tagged truncated proteins confirmed their expression, nuclear localization, and functionality. On the other hand, in cells with no endogenous wild-type BRCA1 (HCC1937 human breast cancer cells), the wtBRCA1 gene enhanced cellular DNA repair activity and rendered the cells resistant to DNA damage; while truncated BRCA1 proteins blocked the wtBRCA1-induced chemoresistance. Our findings suggest that truncated BRCA1 proteins can inhibit the function of wild-type BRCA1. They raise the possibility that some inherited BRCA1 mutations may actively promote oncogenesis by blocking the function of the remaining wild-type BRCA1 allele, although this hypothesis remains to be proved.

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