Depending on the type of cell, that can be pretty often. Many proteins are involved in everyday DNA repair, but if they are mutated, the repair system breaks down and cancer can occur. Cells have two complicated ways to repair these breaks, which can affect the stability of the entire genome.
Roger A. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., associate investigator, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and associate professor of Cancer Biology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, together with postdoctoral researcher Jiangbo Tang Ph.D. and colleagues, found a key determinant in the balance between two proteins, BRCA1 and 53BP1, in the DNA repair machinery. Breast and ovarian cancer are associated with a breakdown in the repair systems involving these proteins. Their findings appear in the latest online issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
The two proteins, BRCA1 and 53BP1, control which of two cell-repair mechanisms will be used: homologous recombination or non-homologous end-joining, technically speaking. This competition has proven to be a key factor in determining whether a cell becomes cancer prone as well as how a cancer cell will respond to chemotherapy.
The key step of the balance is acetylation, the chemical process of adding a compound called an acetyl group to other cellular molecules.
The researchers asked what cell signals determine whether BRCA or 53BP1 predominates at a DNA break site.
DNA in the nucleus is tightly packed around proteins called histones. Acetylation at a specific spot on histone H4 determines the answer. If H4 is acetylated at a specific location, then 53BP1 binding near the broken DNA region is strongly reduced. This leaves BRCA1 free to do the work, kicking in the homologous recombination tool to repair the break.
On the other hand, if acetylation is reduced, 53BP1 outcompetes BRCA1 at a break and the non-homologous end-joining tool repairs the break.
This mechanism can help explain resistance to a promising chemotherapy called PARP inhibition seen in patients and mouse models with BRCA1 mutations. Work from several other research teams surprisingly has shown that if neither BRCA nor 53BP1 are available, then the homologous recombination system goes into action even in the absence of BRCA1 and BRCA1 mutant cancer cells become resistant to PARP inhibitors.
Because of this, Greenberg says, there are some possible applications for making PARP chemotherapy more sensitive: "If you could inhibit specific acetylation events, then a patient's response to PARP inhibitors might be enhanced by hyperactivating 53BP1 binding to breaks in the context of BRCA1 deficient cancers. What's more, measuring the levels of acetylation at H4 might predict how responsive an individual is to PARP inhibitors."
"The story didn't fall into place the way we thought it would," says Greenberg. "We didn't realize that it was a combination of two epigenetic marks that drives the repair system. However, we were able to show that 53BP1 doesn't bind well to regions of histone H4 that are acetylated at a specific location on H4. Collaboration with Georges Mer, a structural biologist at the Mayo Clinic, helped provide the molecular basis for these findings. We think there will be further complexity to this regulation, creating the possibility for the discovery of additional mechanisms that regulate DNA repair pathways and response to therapy and potential new targets for diagnosis and therapy."
Co-authors are Nam Woo Cho, Erica M. Manion, Niraj M. Shanbhag, all from Penn, and Gaofeng Cui, Maria Victoria Botuyan, and Georges Mer, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic.
The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (1R01CA138835-01, 1R01CA132878, P50CA116201), a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society, a DOD Breast Cancer Idea Award, a UPENN-FCCC SPORE Pilot Grant, and funds from the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and Basser Research Center for BRCA.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $479.3 million awarded in the 2011 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2011, Penn Medicine provided $854 million to benefit our community.
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
How protein islands form
15.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research