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 . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Breast cancer; PALB2; Mutation; African-American; Sequencing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Epigenetic silencing by DNA methylation of PALB2 is not a common event in high-grade serous ovarian cancers.
DNA methylation; Ovarian cancer; Fanconi anaemia; PALB2; MS-HRM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nrf2; Keap1; redox
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.
Nrf2; Keap1; ARE; fluorescence polarization; high throughput screening; oxidative response
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.
Mammary epithelial cells; miR-28; Nrf2; Chemoprevention
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.
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.
Upregulation of cytoprotective enzymes by therapeutic agents to prevent damage by reactive oxygen species and xenobiotic electrophiles is a strategy for cancer chemoprevention. The Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) and its binding partner, transcription factor NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2), are chemoprevention targets because of their role in regulating the antioxidant response element (ARE) in response to oxidative stress and exposure to electrophiles. Modification of the sensor protein Keap1 by electrophiles such as the isothiocyanate sulforaphane can direct Nrf2 accumulation in the nucleus and subsequent ARE activation. Since our previous matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS)-based screening method to discover natural products that modify Keap1 does not detect covalent modification of Keap1 by some highly reversible agents such as sulforaphane, a more sensitive screening assay was developed. In this new assay, electrophiles that have reversibly modified Keap1 can be released, trapped and detected as β-mercaptoethanol adducts by mass spectrometry. Isoliquiritigenin and sulforaphane, known ARE activators that target Keap1, were used to validate the assay. To determine the ability of the assay to identify electrophiles in complex matrixes that modify Keap1, sulforaphane was spiked into a cocoa extract, and LC-MS/MS using high resolution mass spectrometry with accurate mass measurement was used to identify β-mercaptoethanol adducts of sulforaphane that had been released from Keap1. This screening assay permits identification of potential chemoprevention agents in complex natural product mixtures that reversibly modify Keap1 but cannot be detected using MALDI-TOF MS.
The Keap1–Nrf2 [Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1–nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2] pathway plays a central role in the protection of cells against oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. Nrf2 is a potent transcription activator that recognizes a unique DNA sequence known as the antioxidant response element (ARE). Under normal conditions, Nrf2 binds to Keap1 in the cytoplasm, resulting in proteasomal degradation. Following exposure to electrophiles or reactive oxygen species, Nrf2 becomes stabilized, translocates into the nucleus, and activates the transcription of various cytoprotective genes. Increasing attention has been paid to the role of Nrf2 in cancer cells because the constitutive stabilization of Nrf2 has been observed in many human cancers with poor prognosis. Recent studies have shown that the antioxidant and detoxification activities of Nrf2 confer chemo- and radio-resistance to cancer cells. In this review, we provide an overview of the Keap1–Nrf2 system and discuss its role under physiological and pathological conditions, including cancers. We also introduce the results of our recent study describing Nrf2 function in the metabolism of cancer cells. Nrf2 likely confers a growth advantage to cancer cells through enhancing cytoprotection and anabolism. Finally, we discuss the possible impact of Nrf2 inhibitors on cancer therapy.
stress response; redox homeostasis; transcription; purine nucleotide; glutathione
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.
Tumor-suppressor genes; Oncogenes; Development/abortion; Aging; Estrogens
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.
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.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are mutagenic and may thereby promote cancer1. Normally, ROS levels are tightly controlled by an inducible antioxidant program that responds to cellular stressors and is predominantly regulated by the transcription factor Nrf2 and its repressor protein Keap12-5. In contrast to the acute physiological regulation of Nrf2, in neoplasia there is evidence for increased basal activation of Nrf2. Indeed, somatic mutations that disrupt the Nrf2-Keap1 interaction to stabilize Nrf2 and increase the constitutive transcription of Nrf2 target genes were recently identified, suggesting that enhanced ROS detoxification and additional Nrf2 functions may in fact be pro-tumorigenic6. Here, we investigated ROS metabolism in primary murine cells following the expression of endogenous oncogenic alleles of K-Ras, B-Raf and Myc, and find that ROS are actively suppressed by these oncogenes. K-RasG12D, B-RafV619E and MycERT2 each increased the transcription of Nrf2 to stably elevate the basal Nrf2 antioxidant program and thereby lower intracellular ROS and confer a more reduced intracellular environment. Oncogene-directed increased expression of Nrf2 is a novel mechanism for the activation of the Nrf2 antioxidant program, and is evident in primary cells and tissues of mice expressing K-RasG12D and B-RafV619E, and in human pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, genetic targeting of the Nrf2 pathway impairs K-RasG12D-induced proliferation and tumorigenesis in vivo. Thus, the Nrf2 antioxidant and cellular detoxification program represents a previously unappreciated mediator of oncogenesis.
Inherited mutations in the BRCA2-interacting protein PALB2 are known to be associated with increased risks of breast cancer. In order to evaluate the contribution of PALB2 to familial breast cancer in the United States, we sequenced the coding sequences and flanking regulatory regions of the gene from constitutional genomic DNA of 1144 familial breast cancer patients with wildtype sequences at BRCA1 and BRCA2. Overall, 3.4% (33/972) of patients not selected by ancestry and 0% (0/172) of patients specifically of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry were heterozygous for a nonsense, frameshift, or frameshift-associated splice mutation in PALB2. Mutations were detected in both male and female breast cancer patients. All mutations were individually rare: the 33 heterozygotes harbored 13 different mutations, 5 previously reported and 8 novel. PALB2 heterozygotes were 4-fold more likely to have a male relative with breast cancer (P=0.0003) and 6-fold more likely to have a relative with pancreatic cancer (P=0.002), and 1.3-fold more likely to have a relative with ovarian cancer (P=0.18). Compared to their female relatives without mutations, increased risk of breast cancer for female PALB2 heterozygotes was 2.3-fold (95%CI [1.5–4.2]) by age 55 and 3.4-fold (95%CI [2.4–5.9]) by age 85. Loss of the wildtype PALB2 allele was observed in laser dissected tumor specimens from heterozygous patients. Given this mutation prevalence and risk, consideration might be given to clinical testing of PALB2 by complete genomic sequencing for familial breast cancer patients with wildtype sequences at BRCA1 and BRCA2.