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1.  PALB2 Links BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the DNA-Damage Response 
Current biology : CB  2009;19(6):524-529.
Summary
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are often mutated in familial breast and ovarian cancer. Both tumor suppressors play key roles in the DNA-damage response [1, 2]. However, it remains unclear whether these two tumor suppressor function together in the same DNA-damage response pathway. Here, we show that BRCA1 associates with BRCA2 through PALB2/FANCN, a major binding partner of BRCA2 [3]. The interaction between BRCA1 and BRCA2 is abrogated in PALB2-deficient Fanconi anemia cells and in the cells depleted of PALB2 by small interfering RNA. Moreover, we show that BRCA1 promotes the concentration of PALB2 and BRCA2 at DNA-damage sites and the interaction between BRCA1 and PALB2 is important for the homologous recombination repair. Taken together, our results indicate that BRCA1 is an upstream regulator of BRCA2 in the DNA-damage response, and PALB2 is the linker between BRCA1 and BRCA2.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.02.018
PMCID: PMC2750839  PMID: 19268590
2.  PALB2/FANCN - recombining cancer and Fanconi anemia 
Cancer research  2010;70(19):7353-7359.
PALB2 was originally identified as a BRCA2-interacting protein which is crucial for key BRCA2 genome caretaker functions. It subsequently became clear that PALB2 was another Fanconi anemia (FA) gene (FANCN), and that monoallelic PALB2 mutations are associated with increased risk of breast and pancreatic cancer. Mutations in PALB2 have been identified in breast cancer families worldwide and recent studies have shown that PALB2 also interacts with BRCA1. Here we summarize the molecular functions and clinical phenotypes of this key DNA repair pathway component and discuss how its discovery has advanced our knowledge of both FA and adult cancer predisposition.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1012
PMCID: PMC2948578  PMID: 20858716
3.  PALB2, which encodes a BRCA2-interacting protein, is a breast cancer susceptibility gene 
Nature genetics  2006;39(2):165-167.
PALB2 interacts with BRCA2, and biallelic mutations in PALB2 (also known as FANCN), similar to biallelic BRCA2 mutations, cause Fanconi anemia. We identified monoallelic truncating PALB2 mutations in 10/923 individuals with familial breast cancer compared with 0/1,084 controls (P = 0.0004) and show that such mutations confer a 2.3-fold higher risk of breast cancer (95% confidence interval (c.i.) = 1.4–3.9, P = 0.0025). The results show that PALB2 is a breast cancer susceptibility gene and further demonstrate the close relationship of the Fanconi anemia–DNA repair pathway and breast cancer predisposition.
doi:10.1038/ng1959
PMCID: PMC2871593  PMID: 17200668
4.  Proteomic analysis of ubiquitin ligase KEAP1 reveals associated proteins that inhibit NRF2 ubiquitination 
Cancer research  2013;73(7):2199-2210.
Somatic mutations in the KEAP1 ubiquitin ligase or its substrate NRF2 (NFE2L2) commonly occur in human cancer, resulting in constitutive NRF2-mediated transcription of cytoprotective genes. However, many tumors display high NRF2 activity in the absence of mutation, supporting the hypothesis that alternative mechanisms of pathway activation exist. Previously, we and others discovered that via a competitive binding mechanism, the proteins WTX (AMER1), PALB2 and SQSTM1 bind KEAP1 to activate NRF2. Proteomic analysis of the KEAP1 protein interaction network revealed a significant enrichment of associated proteins containing an ETGE amino acid motif, which matches the KEAP1 interaction motif found in NRF2. Like WTX, PALB2, and SQSTM1, we found that the dipeptidyl peptidase 3 (DPP3) protein binds KEAP1 via an ‘ETGE’ motif to displace NRF2, thus inhibiting NRF2 ubiquitination and driving NRF2-dependent transcription. Comparing the spectrum of KEAP1 interacting proteins with the genomic profile of 178 squamous cell lung carcinomas characterized by The Cancer Genome Atlas revealed amplification and mRNA over-expression of the DPP3 gene in tumors with high NRF2 activity but lacking NRF2 stabilizing mutations. We further show that tumor-derived mutations in KEAP1 are hypomorphic with respect to NRF2 inhibition and that DPP3 over-expression in the presence of these mutants further promotes NRF2 activation. Collectively, our findings further support the competition model of NRF2 activation and suggest that ‘ETGE’-containing proteins like DPP3 contribute to NRF2 activity in cancer.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4400
PMCID: PMC3618590  PMID: 23382044
5.  PALB2 self-interaction controls homologous recombination 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):10312-10323.
PALB2 is essential for BRCA2 anchorage to nuclear structures and for homologous recombinational repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Here, we report that the N-terminal coiled-coil motif of PALB2 regulates its self-association and homologous recombination. Monomeric PALB2 shows higher efficiency to bind DNA and promotes RAD51 filament formation with or without the inhibitory effect of Replication Protein A. Moreover, overexpression of the PALB2 coiled-coil domain severely affects RAD51 loading to DNA damage sites suggesting a competition between PALB2 self-interaction and PALB2–BRCA1 interaction. In the presence of DNA damage, the switch between PALB2–PALB2 and PALB2–BRCA1 interactions allows the activation of HR. Controlling HR via PALB2 self-interactions could be important to prevent aberrant recombination in normal conditions and activate DNA repair when required.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks807
PMCID: PMC3488246  PMID: 22941656
6.  Novel germline PALB2 truncating mutations in African-American breast cancer patients 
Cancer  2011;118(5):1362-1370.
Background
It has been demonstrated that PALB2 acts as a bridging molecule between the BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins and is responsible for facilitating BRCA2-mediated DNA repair. Truncating mutations in the PALB2 gene have been reported to be enriched in Fanconi anemia and breast cancer patients in various populations.
Methods
We evaluated the contribution of PALB2 germline mutations in 279 African-American breast cancer patients including 29 patients with a strong family history, 29 patients with a moderate family history, 75 patients with a weak family history, and 146 non-familial or sporadic breast cancer cases.
Results
After direct sequencing of all the coding exons, exon/intron boundaries, 5′UTR and 3′UTR of PALB2, three (1.08%; 3 in 279) novel monoallelic truncating mutations were identified: c.758dupT (exon4), c.1479delC (exon4) and c.3048delT (exon 10); together with 50 sequence variants, 27 of which are novel. None of the truncating mutations were found in 262 controls from the same population.
Conclusions
PALB2 mutations are present in both familial and non-familial breast cancer among African-Americans. Rare PALB2 mutations account for a small but substantial proportion of breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1002/cncr.26388
PMCID: PMC3244533  PMID: 21932393
Breast cancer; PALB2; Mutation; African-American; Sequencing
7.  Analysis of PALB2 Gene in BRCA1/BRCA2 Negative Spanish Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer Families with Pancreatic Cancer Cases 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67538.
Background
The PALB2 gene, also known as FANCN, forms a bond and co-localizes with BRCA2 in DNA repair. Germline mutations in PALB2 have been identified in approximately 1% of familial breast cancer and 3–4% of familial pancreatic cancer. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of PALB2 mutations in a population of BRCA1/BRCA2 negative breast cancer patients selected from either a personal or family history of pancreatic cancer.
Methods
132 non-BRCA1/BRCA2 breast/ovarian cancer families with at least one pancreatic cancer case were included in the study. PALB2 mutational analysis was performed by direct sequencing of all coding exons and intron/exon boundaries, as well as multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification.
Results
Two PALB2 truncating mutations, the c.1653T>A (p.Tyr551Stop) previously reported, and c.3362del (p.Gly1121ValfsX3) which is a novel frameshift mutation, were identified. Moreover, several PALB2 variants were detected; some of them were predicted as pathological by bioinformatic analysis. Considering truncating mutations, the prevalence rate of our population of BRCA1/2-negative breast cancer patients with pancreatic cancer is 1.5%.
Conclusions
The prevalence rate of PALB2 mutations in non-BRCA1/BRCA2 breast/ovarian cancer families, selected from either a personal or family pancreatic cancer history, is similar to that previously described for unselected breast/ovarian cancer families. Future research directed towards identifying other gene(s) involved in the development of breast/pancreatic cancer families is required.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067538
PMCID: PMC3720732  PMID: 23935836
8.  KPNA6 (Importin α7)-Mediated Nuclear Import of Keap1 Represses the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(9):1800-1811.
The transcription factor Nrf2 has emerged as a master regulator of cellular redox homeostasis. As an adaptive response to oxidative stress, Nrf2 activates the transcription of a battery of genes encoding antioxidants, detoxification enzymes, and xenobiotic transporters by binding the cis-antioxidant response element in the promoter regions of genes. The magnitude and duration of inducible Nrf2 signaling is delicately controlled at multiple levels by Keap1, which targets Nrf2 for redox-sensitive ubiquitin-mediated degradation in the cytoplasm and exports Nrf2 from the nucleus. However, it is not clear how Keap1 gains access to the nucleus. In this study, we show that Keap1 is constantly shuttling between the nucleus and the cytoplasm under physiological conditions. The nuclear import of Keap1 requires its C-terminal Kelch domain and is independent of Nrf1 and Nrf2. We have determined that importin α7, also known as karyopherin α6 (KPNA6), directly interacts with the Kelch domain of Keap1. Overexpression of KPNA6 facilitates Keap1 nuclear import and attenuates Nrf2 signaling, whereas knockdown of KPNA6 slows down Keap1 nuclear import and enhances the Nrf2-mediated adaptive response induced by oxidative stress. Furthermore, KPNA6 accelerates the clearance of Nrf2 protein from the nucleus during the postinduction phase, therefore promoting restoration of the Nrf2 protein to basal levels. These findings demonstrate that KPNA6-mediated Keap1 nuclear import plays an essential role in modulating the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response and maintaining cellular redox homeostasis.
doi:10.1128/MCB.05036-11
PMCID: PMC3133232  PMID: 21383067
9.  PALB2 mutations in familial breast and pancreatic cancer 
Familial cancer  2011;10(2):10.1007/s10689-011-9426-1.
PALB2 (Partner And Localizer of BRCA2) binds to and colocalizes with BRCA2 in DNA repair. Germline mutations in PALB2 have been identified in approximately 1–2% of familial breast cancer and 3–4% of familial pancreatic cancer cases. The goal of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of PALB2 mutations in women with breast cancer without BRCA1/2 mutations who also had a personal or family history of pancreatic cancer. PALB2 mutation analysis was performed in 94 non-BRCA1/2 breast cancer patients with a personal or family history of pancreatic cancer. Two truncating PALB2 mutations, c.3549C>CA and c.2962C>CT, were identified resulting in a mutation prevalence of 2.1%. The proband found to carry the c.3549C>CA PALB2 mutation had a mother diagnosed with both breast and pancreatic cancer; this relative was subsequently confirmed to carry the identical mutation. The proband with the c.2962C>CT mutation had a father and paternal aunt diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; neither relative was available for testing. Two novel PALB2 missense variants were also found, one of which was deemed potentially deleterious. The prevalence rate of PALB2 mutations in a non-BRCA1/2 breast cancer population specifically selected for a family history of pancreatic cancer does not appear to be significantly increased compared to that observed in other breast cancer populations studied thus far. Further evaluation is needed to determine the prevalence of PALB2 mutations and the clinical utility of such testing in those individuals affected with both breast and pancreatic cancers.
doi:10.1007/s10689-011-9426-1
PMCID: PMC3836668  PMID: 21365267
BRCA2; Breast cancer; PALB2; Pancreatic cancer
10.  Prevalence of PALB2 Mutations in Breast Cancer Patients in Multi-Ethnic Asian Population in Malaysia and Singapore 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73638.
Background
The partner and localizer of breast cancer 2 (PALB2) is responsible for facilitating BRCA2-mediated DNA repair by serving as a bridging molecule, acting as the physical and functional link between the breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) proteins. Truncating mutations in the PALB2 gene are rare but are thought to be associated with increased risks of developing breast cancer in various populations.
Methods
We evaluated the contribution of PALB2 germline mutations in 122 Asian women with breast cancer, all of whom had significant family history of breast and other cancers. Further screening for nine PALB2 mutations was conducted in 874 Malaysian and 532 Singaporean breast cancer patients, and in 1342 unaffected Malaysian and 541 unaffected Singaporean women.
Results
By analyzing the entire coding region of PALB2, we found two novel truncating mutations and ten missense mutations in families tested negative for BRCA1/2-mutations. One additional novel truncating PALB2 mutation was identified in one patient through genotyping analysis. Our results indicate a low prevalence of deleterious PALB2 mutations and a specific mutation profile within the Malaysian and Singaporean populations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073638
PMCID: PMC3748013  PMID: 23977390
11.  Plasticity of BRCA2 Function in Homologous Recombination: Genetic Interactions of the PALB2 and DNA Binding Domains 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002409.
The breast cancer suppressor BRCA2 is essential for the maintenance of genomic integrity in mammalian cells through its role in DNA repair by homologous recombination (HR). Human BRCA2 is 3,418 amino acids and is comprised of multiple domains that interact with the RAD51 recombinase and other proteins as well as with DNA. To gain insight into the cellular function of BRCA2 in HR, we created fusions consisting of various BRCA2 domains and also introduced mutations into these domains to disrupt specific protein and DNA interactions. We find that a BRCA2 fusion peptide deleted for the DNA binding domain and active in HR is completely dependent on interaction with the PALB2 tumor suppressor for activity. Conversely, a BRCA2 fusion peptide deleted for the PALB2 binding domain is dependent on an intact DNA binding domain, providing a role for this conserved domain in vivo; mutagenesis suggests that both single-stranded and double-stranded DNA binding activities in the DNA binding domain are required for its activity. Given that PALB2 itself binds DNA, these results suggest alternative mechanisms to deliver RAD51 to DNA. In addition, the BRCA2 C terminus contains both RAD51-dependent and -independent activities which are essential to HR in some contexts. Finally, binding the small peptide DSS1 is essential for activity when its binding domain is present, but not when it is absent. Our results reveal functional redundancy within the BRCA2 protein and emphasize the plasticity of this large protein built for optimal HR function in mammalian cells. The occurrence of disease-causing mutations throughout BRCA2 suggests sub-optimal HR from a variety of domain modulations.
Author Summary
The breast tumor suppressor BRCA2 has a major role in DNA repair by homologous recombination (HR). BRCA2 is a large protein with multiple domains that interact with several proteins as well as with DNA, complicating our understanding of how the protein functions in cells. To investigate the mechanism by which BRCA2 functions in HR in cells, we created fusions consisting of various BRCA2 domains and also introduced mutations into these domains to disrupt specific protein and DNA interactions. We find that DNA binding by BRCA2 is critical when a BRCA2 peptide is deficient in binding another breast cancer suppressor, PALB2, but not when the peptide can bind PALB2, suggesting alternative mechanisms of activity. Binding the small peptide DSS1 is also essential for HR only in some contexts, as are activities in the BRCA2 C terminus. Our results reveal redundancy of BRCA2 domains and emphasize plasticity within this large protein built for optimal HR function in mammalian cells. The occurrence of disease-causing mutations throughout BRCA2 suggests sub-optimal HR from a variety of domain modulations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002409
PMCID: PMC3240595  PMID: 22194698
12.  No evidence for PALB2 methylation in high-grade serous ovarian cancer 
Background
High-grade serous ovarian cancers are a distinct histological subtype of ovarian cancer often characterised by a dysfunctional BRCA/Fanconi anaemia (BRCA/FA) pathway, which is critical to the homologous recombination DNA repair machinery. An impaired BRCA/FA pathway sensitises tumours to the treatment with DNA cross-linking agents and to PARP inhibitors. The vast majority of inactivating mutations in the BRCA/FA pathway are in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and occur predominantly in high-grade serous cancer. Another member of the BRCA/FA pathway, PALB2 (FANCN), was reported to have been inactivated by DNA methylation in some sporadic ovarian cancers. We therefore sought to investigate the role of PALB2 methylation in high-grade serous ovarian cancers.
Finding
PALB2 methylation was investigated in 92 high-grade serous ovarian cancer samples using methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting analysis. DNA methylation of PALB2 was not detected in any of the ovarian cancer samples investigated.
Conclusion
Epigenetic silencing by DNA methylation of PALB2 is not a common event in high-grade serous ovarian cancers.
doi:10.1186/1757-2215-6-26
PMCID: PMC3636006  PMID: 23587053
DNA methylation; Ovarian cancer; Fanconi anaemia; PALB2; MS-HRM
13.  Enhancement of the RAD51 Recombinase Activity by the Tumor Suppressor PALB2 
Nature structural & molecular biology  2010;17(10):1255-1259.
Homologous recombination mediated by the RAD51 recombinase helps eliminate chromosomal lesions, such as DNA double-stranded breaks induced by radiation or arising from injured DNA replication forks. The tumor suppressors BRCA2 and PALB2 act together to deliver RAD51 to chromosomal lesions to initiate repair. Here we document a new function of PALB2 in the enhancement of RAD51's ability to form the D-loop. We show that PALB2 binds DNA and physically interacts with RAD51. Importantly, while PALB2 alone stimulates D-loop formation, a co-operative effect is seen with RAD51AP1, an enhancer of RAD51. This stimulation stems from PALB2's ability to function with RAD51 and RAD51AP1 to assemble the synaptic complex. Our results help unveil a multi-faceted role of PALB2 in chromosome damage repair. Since PALB2 mutations can cause breast and other tumors or lead to Fanconi anemia, our findings are important for understanding the mechanism of tumor suppression in humans.
doi:10.1038/nsmb.1916
PMCID: PMC2950913  PMID: 20871616
14.  Heterozygous mutations in PALB2 cause DNA replication and damage response defects 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2578.
Besides mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2, heterozygous defects in PALB2 are important in breast cancer predisposition. PALB2 heterozygosity increases the risk of malignancy about sixfold. PALB2 interacts with BRCA1 and BRCA2 to regulate homologous recombination and mediate DNA damage response. Here we show, by analysing lymphoblastoid cell lines from heterozygous female PALB2 mutation carriers, that PALB2 haploinsufficiency causes aberrant DNA replication/damage response. Mutation carrier cells show increased origin firing and shorter distance between consecutive replication forks. Carrier cell lines also show elevated ATR protein, but not phosphorylation levels, and a majority of them display aberrant Chk1-/Chk2-mediated DNA damage response. Elevated chromosome instability is observed in primary blood lymphocytes of PALB2 mutation carriers, indicating that the described mechanisms of genome destabilization operate also at the organism level. These findings provide a new mechanism for early stages of breast cancer development that may also apply to other heterozygous homologous recombination signalling pathway gene mutations in hereditary cancer predisposition.
PALB2 is a BRCA1-/BRCA2-interacting protein and heterozygous mutations in PALB2 are associated with hereditary breast cancer predisposition. Here the authors show that human lymphoblastoid cells from heterozygous PALB2 mutation carriers display abnormal DNA replication dynamics and DNA damage response.
doi:10.1038/ncomms3578
PMCID: PMC3826652  PMID: 24153426
15.  Roles Nrf2 Plays in Myeloid Cells and Related Disorders 
The Keap1-Nrf2 system protects animals from oxidative and electrophilic stresses. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that induces the expression of genes essential for detoxifying reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytotoxic electrophiles. Keap1 is a stress sensor protein that binds to and ubiquitinates Nrf2 under unstressed conditions, leading to the rapid proteasomal degradation of Nrf2. Upon exposure to stress, Keap1 is modified and inactivated, which allows Nrf2 to accumulate and activate the transcription of a battery of cytoprotective genes. Antioxidative and detoxification activities are important for many types of cells to avoid DNA damage and cell death. Accumulating lines of recent evidence suggest that Nrf2 is also required for the primary functions of myeloid cells, which include phagocytosis, inflammation regulation, and ROS generation for bactericidal activities. In fact, results from several mouse models have shown that Nrf2 expression in myeloid cells is required for the proper regulation of inflammation, antitumor immunity, and atherosclerosis. Moreover, several molecules generated upon inflammation activate Nrf2. Although ROS detoxification mediated by Nrf2 is assumed to be required for anti-inflammation, the entire picture of the Nrf2-mediated regulation of myeloid cell primary functions has yet to be elucidated. In this review, we describe the Nrf2 inducers characteristic of myeloid cells and the contributions of Nrf2 to diseases.
doi:10.1155/2013/529219
PMCID: PMC3684031  PMID: 23819012
16.  Direct interaction between Nrf2 and p21Cip1/WAF1 upregulates the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant response 
Molecular cell  2009;34(6):663-673.
Summary
In response to oxidative stress, Nrf2 and p21 Cip1/WAF1 are both upregulated to protect cells from oxidative damage. Nrf2 is constantly ubiquitinated by a Keap1 dimer that interacts with a weak-binding 29DLG motif and a strong-binding 79ETGE motif in Nrf2, resulting in degradation of Nrf2. Modification of the redox-sensitive cysteine residues on Keap1 disrupts the Keap1-29DLG binding, leading to diminished Nrf2 ubiquitination and activation of the antioxidant response. However, the underlying mechanism by which p21 protects cells from oxidative damage remains unclear. Here, we present molecular and genetic evidence suggesting that the antioxidant function of p21 is mediated through activation of Nrf2 by stabilizing the Nrf2 protein. The 154KRR motif in p21 directly interacts with the 29DLG and 79ETGE motifs in Nrf2, and thus, competes with Keap1 for Nrf2 binding, compromising ubiquitination of Nrf2. Furthermore, the physiological significance of our findings was demonstrated in vivo using p21-deficient mice.
doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2009.04.029
PMCID: PMC2714804  PMID: 19560419
17.  Nuclear Oncoprotein Prothymosin α Is a Partner of Keap1: Implications for Expression of Oxidative Stress-Protecting Genes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):1089-1099.
Animal cells counteract oxidative stress and electrophilic attack through coordinated expression of a set of detoxifying and antioxidant enzyme genes mediated by transcription factor Nrf2. In unstressed cells, Nrf2 appears to be sequestered in the cytoplasm via association with an inhibitor protein, Keap1. Here, by using the yeast two-hybrid screen, human Keap1 has been identified as a partner of the nuclear protein prothymosin α. The in vivo and in vitro data indicated that the prothymosin α-Keap1 interaction is direct, highly specific, and functionally relevant. Furthermore, we showed that Keap1 is a nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling protein equipped with a nuclear export signal that is important for its inhibitory action. Prothymosin α was able to liberate Nrf2 from the Nrf2-Keap1 inhibitory complex in vitro through competition with Nrf2 for binding to the same domain of Keap1. In vivo, the level of Nrf2-dependent transcription was correlated with the intracellular level of prothymosin α by using prothymosin α overproduction and mRNA interference approaches. Our data attribute to prothymosin α the role of intranuclear dissociator of the Nrf2-Keap1 complex, thus revealing a novel function for prothymosin α and adding a new dimension to the molecular mechanisms underlying expression of oxidative stress-protecting genes.
doi:10.1128/MCB.25.3.1089-1099.2005
PMCID: PMC544000  PMID: 15657435
18.  Molecular Mechanisms of Nrf2-Mediated Antioxidant Response 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(2):91-104.
Nrf2 is the key transcription factor regulating the antioxidant response. Nrf2 signaling is repressed by Keap1 at basal condition and induced by oxidative stress. Keap1 is recently identified as a Cullin 3-dependent substrate adaptor protein. A two-sites binding “hinge & latch” model vividly depicts how Keap1 can efficiently present Nrf2 as substrate for ubiquitination. Oxidative perturbation can impede Keap1-mediated Nrf2 ubiquitination but fail to disrupt Nrf2/Keap1 binding. Nrf2 per se is a redox-sensitive transcripon factor. A new Nrf2-mediated redox signaling model is proposed based on these new discoveries. Free floating Nrf2 protein functions as a redox-sensitive probe. Keap1 instead functions as a gate keeper to control the availability of Nrf2 probes and thus regulates the overall sensitivity of the redox signaling.
doi:10.1002/mc.20465
PMCID: PMC2631094  PMID: 18618599
Nrf2; Keap1; redox
19.  Optimization of fluorescently labeled Nrf2 peptide probes and the development of a fluorescence polarization assay for the discovery of inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2011;17(4):435-447.
Activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE) up-regulates enzymes involved in detoxification of electrophiles and reactive oxygen species. The induction of ARE genes is regulated by the interaction between redox sensor protein, Keap1, and the transcription factor, Nrf2. Fluorescently labeled Nrf2 peptides containing the ETGE motif were synthesized and optimized as tracers in the development of a fluorescence polarization (FP) assay to identify small molecule inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction. The tracers were optimized to increase the dynamic range of the assay and their binding affinities to the Keap1 Kelch domain. The binding affinities of Nrf2 peptide inhibitors obtained in our FP assay using FITC-9mer Nrf2 peptide amide as the probe were in good agreement with those obtained previously by a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) assay. The FP assay exhibits considerable tolerance towards DMSO and produced a Z'-factor greater than 0.6 in a 384-well format. Further optimization of the probe led to cyanine-labeled 9mer Nrf2 peptide amide, which can be used along with the FITC-9mer Nrf2 peptide amide in a high throughput screening (HTS) assay to discover small molecule inhibitors of Keap1-Nrf2 interaction.
doi:10.1177/1087057111430124
PMCID: PMC3309107  PMID: 22156223
Nrf2; Keap1; ARE; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; oxidative response
20.  EMSY overexpression disrupts the BRCA2/RAD51 pathway in the DNA-damage response: implications for chromosomal instability/recombination syndromes as checkpoint diseases 
Molecular Genetics and Genomics  2011;285(4):325-340.
EMSY links the BRCA2 pathway to sporadic breast/ovarian cancer. It encodes a nuclear protein that binds to the BRCA2 N-terminal domain implicated in chromatin/transcription regulation, but when sporadically amplified/overexpressed, increased EMSY level represses BRCA2 transactivation potential and induces chromosomal instability, mimicking the activity of BRCA2 mutations in the development of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer. In addition to chromatin/transcription regulation, EMSY may also play a role in the DNA-damage response, suggested by its ability to localize at chromatin sites of DNA damage/repair. This implies that EMSY overexpression may also repress BRCA2 in DNA-damage replication/checkpoint and recombination/repair, coordinated processes that also require its interacting proteins: PALB2, the partner and localizer of BRCA2; RPA, replication/checkpoint protein A; and RAD51, the inseparable recombination/repair enzyme. Here, using a well-characterized recombination/repair assay system, we demonstrate that a slight increase in EMSY level can indeed repress these two processes independently of transcriptional interference/repression. Since EMSY, RPA and PALB2 all bind to the same BRCA2 region, these findings further support a scenario wherein: (a) EMSY amplification may mimic BRCA2 deficiency, at least by overriding RPA and PALB2, crippling the BRCA2/RAD51 complex at DNA-damage and replication/transcription sites; and (b) BRCA2/RAD51 may coordinate these processes by employing at least EMSY, PALB2 and RPA. We extensively discuss the molecular details of how this can happen to ascertain its implications for a novel recombination mechanism apparently conceived as checkpoint rather than a DNA repair system for cell division, survival, death, and human diseases, including the tissue specificity of cancer predisposition, which may renew our thinking about targeted therapy and prevention.
doi:10.1007/s00438-011-0612-5
PMCID: PMC3064890  PMID: 21409565
Tumor-suppressor genes; Oncogenes; Development/abortion; Aging; Estrogens
21.  MiR-28 regulates Nrf2 expression through a Keap1-independent mechanism 
NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is an important transcription factor involved in antioxidant response. Nrf2 binds antioxidant response elements (ARE) within promoters of genes encoding detoxification enzymes (e.g., NAD (P) H-quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1)) leading to their transcriptional activation. Nrf2 function is regulated post-translationally by its negative regulator Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) that binds Nrf2 and induces cytoplasmic Nrf2 degradation. Our present studies provide new evidence that Nrf2 expression can be regulated by a Keap1-independent mechanism. Here, we utilized breast epithelial cells to explore the impact of microRNA (miRNA) on Nrf2 expression. We found that Nrf2 mRNA levels are reversibly correlated with miR-28 expression and that ectopic expression of miR-28 alone reduces Nrf2 mRNA and protein levels. We further investigated the molecular mechanisms by which miR-28 inhibits Nrf2 mRNA expression. Initially, the ability of miR-28 to regulate the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of Nrf2 mRNA was evaluated via luciferase reporter assay. We observed that miR-28 reduces wild-type Nrf2 3′UTR luciferase reporter activity and this repression is eliminated upon mutation of the miR-28 targeting seed sequence within the Nrf2 3′UTR. Moreover, over-expression of miR-28 decreased endogenous Nrf2 mRNA and protein expression. We also explored the impact of miR-28 on Keap1-Nrf2 interactions and found that miR-28 overexpression does not alter Keap1 protein levels and has no effect on the interaction of Keap1 and Nrf2. Our findings, that miR-28 targets the 3′UTR of Nrf2 mRNA and decreases Nrf2 expression, suggest that this miRNA is involved in the regulation of Nrf2 expression in breast epithelial cells.
doi:10.1007/s10549-011-1604-1
PMCID: PMC3752913  PMID: 21638050
Mammary epithelial cells; miR-28; Nrf2; Chemoprevention
22.  Requirement of Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein C for BRCA Gene Expression and Homologous Recombination 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61368.
Background
Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein C1/C2 (hnRNP C) is a core component of 40S ribonucleoprotein particles that bind pre-mRNAs and influence their processing, stability and export. Breast cancer tumor suppressors BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 form a complex and play key roles in homologous recombination (HR), DNA double strand break (DSB) repair and cell cycle regulation following DNA damage.
Methods
PALB2 nucleoprotein complexes were isolated using tandem affinity purification from nuclease-solubilized nuclear fraction. Immunofluorescence was used for localization studies of proteins. siRNA-mediated gene silencing and flow cytometry were used for studying DNA repair efficiency and cell cycle distribution/checkpoints. The effect of hnRNP C on mRNA abundance was assayed using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR.
Results and Significance
We identified hnRNP C as a component of a nucleoprotein complex containing breast cancer suppressor proteins PALB2, BRCA2 and BRCA1. Notably, other components of the 40S ribonucleoprotein particle were not present in the complex. hnRNP C was found to undergo significant changes of sub-nuclear localization after ionizing radiation (IR) and to partially localize to DNA damage sites. Depletion of hnRNP C substantially altered the normal balance of repair mechanisms following DSB induction, reducing HR usage in particular, and impaired S phase progression after IR. Moreover, loss of hnRNP C strongly reduced the abundance of key HR proteins BRCA1, BRCA2, RAD51 and BRIP1, which can be attributed, at least in part, to the downregulation of their mRNAs due to aberrant splicing. Our results establish hnRNP C as a key regulator of BRCA gene expression and HR-based DNA repair. They also suggest the existence of an RNA regulatory program at sites of DNA damage, which involves a unique function of hnRNP C that is independent of the 40S ribonucleoprotein particles and most other hnRNP proteins.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061368
PMCID: PMC3621867  PMID: 23585894
23.  Cysteine-based Regulation of the CUL3 Adaptor Protein Keap1 
Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) is a master transcription factor containing a powerful acidic transcriptional activation domain. Nrf2-dependent gene expression impacts cancer chemoprevention strategies, inflammatory responses, and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Under basal conditions, association of Nrf2 with the CUL3 adaptor protein Keap1 results in the rapid Nrf2 ubiquitylation and proteasome-dependent degradation. Inhibition of Keap1 function blocks ubiquitylation of Nrf2, allowing newly synthesized Nrf2 to translocate into the nucleus, bind to ARE sites and direct target gene expression. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments coupled with proteomic analysis support a model in which Keap1 contains at least 2 distinct cysteine motifs. The first is located at Cys 151 in the BTB domain. The second is located in the intervening domain and centers around Cys 273 & 288. Adduction or oxidation at Cys151 has been shown to produce a conformational change in Keap1 that results in dissociation of Keap1 from CUL3, thereby inhibiting Nrf2 ubiquitylation. Thus, adduction captures specific chemical information and translates it into biochemical information via changes in structural conformation.
doi:10.1016/j.taap.2009.06.016
PMCID: PMC2837771  PMID: 19560482
24.  Redox regulation by Keap1 and Nrf2 controls intestinal stem cell proliferation in Drosophila 
Cell stem cell  2011;8(2):188-199.
In Drosophila, intestinal stem cells (ISCs) respond to oxidative challenges and inflammation by increasing proliferation rates. This phenotype is part of a regenerative response, but can lead to hyperproliferation and epithelial degeneration in the aging animal. Here we show that Nrf2, a master regulator of the cellular redox state, specifically controls the proliferative activity of ISCs, promoting intestinal homeostasis. We find that Nrf2 is constitutively active in ISCs, and that repression of Nrf2 by its negative regulator Keap1 is required for ISC proliferation. We further show that Nrf2 and Keap1 exert this function in ISCs by regulating the intracellular redox balance. Accordingly, loss of Nrf2 in ISCs causes accumulation of reactive oxygen species and accelerates age-related degeneration of the intestinal epithelium. Our findings establish Keap1 and Nrf2 as a critical redox management system that regulates stem cell function in high-turnover tissues.
doi:10.1016/j.stem.2010.12.006
PMCID: PMC3035938  PMID: 21295275
25.  Wilms Tumor Gene on X Chromosome (WTX) Inhibits Degradation of NRF2 Protein through Competitive Binding to KEAP1 Protein* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(9):6539-6550.
Background: KEAP1 is a ubiquitin ligase adaptor that promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of NRF2, a transcription factor that drives the antioxidant response.
Results: Wilms tumor gene on the X chromosome (WTX) stabilizes NRF2 by competing with NRF2 for binding to KEAP1.
Conclusion: WTX regulates the antioxidant response.
Significance: This study reveals a novel regulatory mechanism governing the antioxidant response.
WTX is a tumor suppressor protein that is lost or mutated in up to 30% of cases of Wilms tumor. Among its known functions, WTX interacts with the β-transducin repeat containing family of ubiquitin ligase adaptors and promotes the ubiquitination and degradation of the transcription factor β-catenin, a key control point in the WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway. Here, we report that WTX interacts with a second ubiquitin ligase adaptor, KEAP1, which functions to regulate the ubiquitination of the transcription factor NRF2, a key control point in the antioxidant response. Surprisingly, we find that unlike its ability to promote the ubiquitination of β-catenin, WTX inhibits the ubiquitination of NRF2. WTX and NRF2 compete for binding to KEAP1, and thus loss of WTX leads to rapid ubiquitination and degradation of NRF2 and a reduced response to cytotoxic insult. These results expand our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of WTX and reveal a novel regulatory mechanism governing the antioxidant response.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M111.316471
PMCID: PMC3307315  PMID: 22215675
Antioxidants; Nrf2; Ubiquitin; Ubiquitination; BTRC; KEAP1; WTX

Results 1-25 (621952)