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Enhanced DNA-repair mechanism can cause breast cancer
Date:10/14/2007

mined genomic data from 117 primary breast tumors for evidence of elevated levels of RNAs for genes involved in homologous recombination. They found that the level of RNA for three genes -- RAD51 and two of its key accessory factors -- was significantly higher in BRCA1-deficient tumors compared with breast tumors that were not associated with BRCA1 mutations.

"High levels of RAD51 may help cells that lack BRCA1 overcome the defects in recombination caused by loss of BRCA1," Bishop said, "but the recombination that occurs in this situation may be abnormal and may actually cause mutations which in turn lead to the development of a tumor."

When the researchers took normal, healthy cells in culture and disabled the BRCA1 gene, the cells survived, but grew slowly and were unable to repair DNA damage normally. When Bishop and his coworkers increased the amount of RAD51 in these cells, however, the ability of cells to repair DNA damage was restored and the mutated cells grew more quickly.

In the future "it will be interesting to determine whether high levels of RAD51 can predict tumor prognosis," said Bishop. "Its also possible that tumor cells with high levels of RAD51 are particularly dependent on that gene for survival and therefore sensitive to drugs that target RAD51"


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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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