AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Implications of BRCA1 mutations in basal-like breast cancer development and treatment

by Yuexi Gu

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Biosciences, Devision of Genetics; Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM)
Year: 2015
Keywords: genetics
Record ID: 1131898
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/154648


Women with germline mutations of BRCA1 gene are predisposed to the development of basal-like breast cancer, which is characterized by the absence of the hormonal and growth factor receptors, ER, PR and HER2. Mutation of BRCA1 predicts increased sensitivity to certain DNA-damaging agents, e.g. PARP inhibitors and cisplatin. Yet in clinical trials, some BRCA1-mutant breast tumors show resistance to these drugs. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the molecular mechanisms of the acquired resistance and identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of those tumors. In order to better understand the biology of breast cancers caused by BRCA1 mutations, we collected and characterized four BRCA1-mutant breast cancer cell lines as surrogates of BRCA1-mutant tumors. Together with several cell lines expressing wildtype BRCA1, we tested their sensitivities to a panel of DNA-damaging agents. We also carried out a high-throughput chemical compound screen on the BRCA1-mutant and BRCA1-wildtype cell lines, and performed a proteome profiling assay to test the kinase activities of those cell lines. Our results reveal extensive heterogeneity among the BRCA1-mutant breast cancer cell lines, which showed resistance to DNA-damaging agents. Then we created isogenic MDA-MB-231 cells with or without BRCA1 depletion by siRNA transfection, and carried out a high-throughput chemical compound screen on the pair of cells in order to identify potential targets that are synthetically lethal with BRCA1 deficiency. Two proteasome inhibitors, bortezomib and carfilzomib, were found to be able to selectively kill BRCA1-depleted cells. Further studies on mechanisms demonstrate that the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib does not induce DNA damage; rather it inactivates G1 cell cycle checkpoint in BRCA1-deficient cells and leads to the accumulation of these cells at G2/M phase. This is caused by inactivation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb) through its hyperphosphorylation, which in turn activates its downstream transcription factor E2F1. In addition, bortezomib causes compromised G2/M cell cycle checkpoint in BRCA1-deficient cells, which drives cells to enter mitosis and leads to apoptosis due to uncontrolled cell division. In order to investigate the mechanisms underlying the consistent basal-like phenotype of breast tumors associated with BRCA1 mutations, we established an in vitro assay to study the transition of mouse mammary epithelial cells from luminal to basal lineages. Our results showed that loss of BRCA1 promotes basal-like differentiation by sustaining ΔNp63 activity. In luminal cells, ΔNp63 is not expressed or remains inactive through localization in nucleoli. Depletion of BRCA1 leads to translocation of ΔNp63 into nucleoplasm and promotes transition of luminal cells into a basal state. This study provides a potential link between BRCA1 loss and the basal-like differentiation, which may help to explain why BRCA1-mutant breast cancer tends to bear a basal-like phenotype. Naiset, jotka kantavat somaattista BRCA1 mutaatiota, ovat…