Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BRCA1 gene found to inhibit two sex hormones, not just one

27.01.2006


Could help explain why women who have mutations in their BRCA1 gene are susceptible to ’hormone-dependent’ cancers including breast, endometrial and cervical cancers



It’s been known that the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 regulates use of estrogen in breast and other cells, but now researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have discovered that it also controls activity of a second sex steroid hormone, progesterone.

The findings, conducted in cell culture and in mice and reported by the researchers in the January issue of Molecular Endocrinology, could help explain why women who have mutations in their BRCA1 gene are susceptible to a number of different "hormone-dependent" cancers, including those of the breast, endometriun and cervix.


It also has implications for ordinary cancers that arise because a normal BRCA1 gene is under-expressed, said the study’s principal investigator, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For example, he says that up to 40 percent of breast tumors are deficient in BRCA1, "and it may be that some patients could benefit not only from an anti-estrogen therapy, like tamoxifen, but also from an anti-progesterone agent.

"We don’t know if that is true yet, of course, but it is certainly worth investigating, given our findings," Rosen said.

The BRCA1 gene and a second gene, BRCA2, were discovered to be breast cancer susceptibility genes in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Women who inherit faulty copies of one of these genes have up to an 80 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer by age 70, and are also more likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Rosen and his research team undertook the study to understand why loss of the BRCA1 gene results in cancers in tissues that are dependent on hormones. They focused on the progesterone hormone, in part, because of the observation that women who use hormone replacement therapy that includes both estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who use only estrogen replacement.

The use of progesterone in the breast is tightly regulated and is primarily activated when growth in cells is needed, such as during the female menstrual cycle and to support a pregnancy. A cell’s use of progesterone and other such hormones is controlled by specific receptor proteins, located inside cells, which bind on to the hormone. This process activates the receptor, which then migrates to the cell nucleus to stimulate gene expression.

To find out what role BRCA1 played in progesterone receptor signaling, the Lombardi research team conducted a series of experiments. In one set of cell culture studies in the laboratory, they used breast cancer cells that were responsive to progesterone, and then genetically manipulated them to either over or under-express the BRCA1 gene in order to assess the gene’s effect on progesterone receptor signaling.

They also used mice in which the BRCA1 gene was partially deleted, but only in breast tissue. The animals were treated with estrogen, or progesterone, or both, and response of the mammary gland was compared with that of normal mice.

In this way, the researchers concluded that BRCA1 interacts physically with the progesterone receptor, and stops it from activating other genes. It does this even in the absence of the progesterone hormone, and, thus, acts as a strong check on errant growth.

"But in mice deficient in BRCA1, we found that estrogen plus progesterone has a particularly large effect in stimulating the growth of mammary epithelial cells − an effect much greater than the effects of either hormone used alone," Rosen said.

Liz McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.georgetown.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>