BRCA1 expression is lost frequently in breast cancers in which it promotes malignant development. In the present study, we performed a global expression analysis of breast cancer cells in which the tumor-suppressor candidate gene TUSC4 was silenced to gain insights into its function. TUSC4 silencing affected genes involved in cell cycle and cell death, which have broad reaching influence on cancer development. Most importantly, we found a cluster pattern of gene-expression profiles in TUSC4-silenced cells that defined a homologous recombination (HR) repair defect signature. Mechanistic investigations indicated that TUSC4 protein could physically interact with the E3 ligase Herc2, which prevents BRCA1 degradation through the ubiquitination pathway. TUSC4 silencing enhanced BRCA1 polyubiquitination, leading to its degradation and a marked reduction in HR repair efficiency. Notably, ectopic expression of TUSC4 suppressed the proliferation, invasion, and colony formation of breast cancer cells in vitro and tumorigenesis in vivo. Furthermore, TUSC4 silencing was sufficient to transform normal mammary epithelial cells and to enhance sensitivity to PARP inhibitors. Our results provide a set of genetic and biologic proofs that TUSC4 functions as a bona fide tumor suppressor by regulating the protein stability and function of BRCA1 in breast cancer.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.