Tumor suppressor genes and breast cancer

Radiat Oncol Investig. 1999;7(2):55-65. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6823(1999)7:2<55::AID-ROI1>3.0.CO;2-#.


The genetic determinants for most breast cancer cases remain elusive. However, a mutation in a tumor suppressor gene, such as p53, BRCA1, BRCA2, or ATM, has been determined to be one mechanism of breast carcinogenesis. It has been established that inherited mutations in p53, BRCA1, and BRCA2 significantly contribute to breast cancer risk, although the importance of an inherited ATM mutation is controversial. Sporadic mutations in p53 are also common in breast cancer cells. The precise deficiencies that result from these genetic mutations have yet to be fully described. Although the functions of these genes are different, they are all involved in the maintenance of genomic stability after DNA damage. Mutations that impair the function of these four genes may adversely affect the manner in which DNA damage is processed. It is likely that the risk of breast cancer development is increased through this mechanism. In this article, we review the relevancy of p53, BRCA1, BRCA2, and ATM mutations to breast cancer development, and review the in vitro, in vivo, and clinical data exploring the mechanisms by which these mutations affect genomic integrity and DNA damage repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1 / genetics
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases