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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 24;278(4):2630-5. Epub 2002 Nov 8.

Structural consequences of a cancer-causing BRCA1-BRCT missense mutation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, 437 Medical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2H7, Canada.


The integrity of the carboxyl-terminal BRCT repeat region is critical for BRCA1 tumor suppressor function; however, the molecular details of how a number of clinically derived BRCT missense mutations affect BRCA1 function remain largely unknown. Here we assess the structural response of the BRCT tandem repeat domain to a well characterized, cancer-associated single amino acid substitution, Met-1775 --> Arg-1775. The structure of BRCT-M1775R reveals that the mutated side chain is extruded from the protein hydrophobic core, thereby altering the protein surface. Charge-charge repulsion, rearrangement of the hydrophobic core, and disruption of the native hydrogen bonding network at the interface between the two BRCT repeats contribute to the conformational instability of BRCT-M1775R. Destabilization and global unfolding of the mutated BRCT domain at physiological temperatures explain the pleiotropic molecular and genetic defects associated with the BRCA1-M1775R protein.

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