A novel mechanism whereby BRCA1/1a/1b fine tunes the dynamic complex interplay between SUMO-dependent/independent activities of Ubc9 on E2-induced ERalpha activation/repression and degradation in breast cancer cells

Int J Oncol. 2009 Apr;34(4):939-49. doi: 10.3892/ijo_00000220.


BRCA1 dysfunction is associated with hormone-responsive cancers. We have identified a consensus SUMO modification site in the amino-terminal region of BRCA1/1a/1b proteins and the mutation in this potential SUMO acceptor site (K 109 to R) impaired their ability to bind and repress ligand-dependent ERalpha transcriptional activity in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, we have found SUMO E2-conjugating enzyme Ubc9 to bind BRCA1 proteins. We have mapped BRCA1 [within amino acids (aa) 1-182] as the minimum domain that is sufficient for in vitro binding to Ubc9 as well as for regulating ERalpha activity. BRCA1 Mutant #1 (K109 to R) was impaired in its ability to both bind, as well as modulate Ubc9 mediated SUMO-dependent/independent E2-induced ERalpha transcriptional activity in breast cancer cells. Similarly, BRCA1 cancer-predisposing mutation (61Cys-Gly) abrogated the ability to both bind Ubc9 as well as inhibit ERalpha activity suggesting physiological significance. Addition of BRCA1 but not Mutant #1 to E2-induced ERalpha in the presence of SUMO-1 and Ubc9 resulted in the degradation of ERalpha suggesting BRCA1 to be a putative SUMO-1 and Ubc9-dependent E3 ubiquitin ligase for ERalpha. This is the first report demonstrating the participation of Ubc9 in BRCA1 E3 ubiquitin ligase mediated degradation of ERalpha. These results suggest a novel function for BRCA1 in regulating the dynamic cycles of SUMO and ubiquitin modifications required for ERalpha turn over and deregulation of this molecular switch due to lack of BRCA1 results in ERalpha-negative/positive breast cancers. This study will help in designing novel BRCA1 function-based targeted treatment for breast cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA1 Protein / physiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • SUMO-1 Protein / genetics*
  • SUMO-1 Protein / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • SUMO-1 Protein
  • SUMO1 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UBC9