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Cancer Res. 2009 Mar 1;69(5):1768-75. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3016. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

Inactivation of the Nijmegen breakage syndrome gene leads to excess centrosome duplication via the ATR/BRCA1 pathway.

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Radiation Biology Center, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Nijmegen breakage syndrome is characterized by genomic instability and a predisposition for lymphoma and solid tumors. Nijmegen breakage syndrome 1 (NBS1), the protein which is mutated in these patients, functions in association with BRCA1 and ATR as part of the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks. We show here that NBS1 forms foci at the centrosomes via an interaction with gamma-tubulin. Down-regulation of NBS1 by small interfering RNA induces supernumerary centrosomes, and this was confirmed with experiments using Nbs1 knockout mouse cells; the introduction of wild-type NBS1 (wt-NBS1) cDNA into these knockout mouse cells reduced the number of supernumerary centrosomes to normal levels. This phenotype in NBS1-deficient cells is caused by both centrosome duplication and impaired separation of centrioles, which have been observed in BRCA1-inhibited cells. In fact, supernumerary centrosomes were observed in Brca1 knockout mouse cells, and the frequency was not affected by NBS1 down-regulation, suggesting that NBS1 maintains centrosomes via a common pathway with BRCA1. This is consistent with findings that NBS1 physically interacts with BRCA1 at the centrosomes and is required for BRCA1-mediated ubiquitination of gamma-tubulin. Moreover, the ubiquitination of gamma-tubulin is compromised by either ATR depletion or an NBS1 mutation in the ATR interacting (FHA) domain, which is essential for ATR activation. These results suggest that, although centrosomes lack DNA, the NBS1/ATR/BRCA1 repair machinery affects centrosome behavior, and this might be a crucial role in the prevention of malignances.

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