BRCA1 mutations in cancer stem cells February 1, 2008Posted by ramunas in BRCA, breast cancer, cancer genetics, hereditary cancer, research.
BRCA1 mutations are the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer and germline mutations carriers have a greatly increased lifetime incidence of breast and ovarian cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for this tissue-specific malignancy are still unknown.
A new study published in PNAS may explain why women with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene face up to an 85 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer.
The study, in mice and in human breast cancer cells, found that BRCA1 is involved in the stem cells differentiating into other breast tissue cells. When BRCA1 is missing, the stem cells tend to accumulate unregulated and develop into cancer. Researchers detected clusters of expanded stem cells in breast tissue isolated from women carrying BRCA1 mutations, and found that women with these expanded stem cells had a particularly high chance of developing breast cancer (via).
“If larger studies confirm these findings, it could potentially lead to a test to identify BRCA1 carriers at particularly high risk of developing breast cancer. This might help them and their physicians make a more informed decision about preventative measures such as prophylactic mastectomy,” says senior study author.
(image source: BRCA1 protein)