THURSDAY, Nov, 20, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The biological function of two tumor-suppressor proteins, BRCA1 and BRCA2, linked to hereditary breast cancer has been identified by researchers at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.
The scientists report their finding in the November issue of Molecular Cell.
They also discovered proteins that interact with BRCA1 and BRCA2 and may also play a role in causing breast cancer. These new proteins offer potential new targets for anti-cancer drugs.
While the association between hereditary breast cancer and BRCA1 and BRCA2 was first revealed in the early 1990s, scientists haven't been able to identify the biological function of the two proteins.
In this study, the Wistar scientists demonstrated that BRCA1 and BRCA2 combine with other proteins to form a complex called BRCC. The scientists also defined the role of BRCC in regulating gene repair.
The Wistar scientists also discovered two new proteins that are part of BRCC. They linked one of those new proteins, BRCC36, to sporadic breast cancers.
"We know that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are normally tumor-suppressor genes that, when mutated, can lead to cancer, but they only account for a fifth of all hereditary breast cancers and about 15 percent of breast cancers overall," senior author Ramin Shiekhattar says in a prepared statement.
"The BRCC36 gene and the other genes that factor into the creation of the BRCC complex are good candidates for additional breast cancer susceptibility genes," Shiekhattar says.
Here's where you can learn more about breast cancer.