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Open Access Review

BRCA1 tumor suppressor network: focusing on its tail

Bin Wang

Author Affiliations

Department of Genetics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Unit 1010, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Genes and Development Program, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Cell & Bioscience 2012, 2:6  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-2-6

Published: 27 February 2012

Abstract

Germline mutations of the BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene are a major cause of familial breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 plays critical roles in the DNA damage response that regulates activities of multiple repair and checkpoint pathways for maintaining genome stability. The BRCT domains of BRCA1 constitute a phospho-peptide binding domain recognizing a phospho-SPxF motif (S, serine; P, proline; × varies; F, phenylalanine). The BRCT domains are frequently targeted by clinically important mutations and most of these mutations disrupt the binding surface of the BRCT domains to phosphorylated peptides. The BRCT domain and its capability to bind phosphorylated protein is required for the tumor suppressor function of BRCA1. Through its BRCT phospho-binding ability BRCA1 forms at least three mutually exclusive complexes by binding to phosphorylated proteins Abraxas, Bach1 and CTIP. The A, B and C complexes, at lease partially undertake BRCA1's role in mechanisms of cell cycle checkpoint and DNA repair that maintain genome stability, thus may play important roles in BRCA1's tumor suppressor function.