BRCA2 protects mammalian cells from heat shock

Int J Hyperthermia. 2018 Sep;34(6):795-801. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2017.1370558. Epub 2017 Sep 10.


Purpose: Heat shock induces DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in mammalian cells. Mammalian cells are capable of repairing DSBs by utilising the homologous recombination (HR) pathway. Breast cancer susceptibility gene 2 (BRCA2) is known to regulate the HR pathway. Here, we investigate the role of BRCA2 in repairing DNA damage induced by heat shock.

Materials and methods: Chinese hamster lung fibroblast cell lines and human tongue squamous cell carcinoma SAS cells were used. RAD51 foci formation assay was used as an HR indicator. Heat sensitivity was analysed with colony forming assays. Phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) intensity, which correlates with the number of DSBs, was analysed with flow cytometry.

Results: RAD51 foci appeared with heat shock, and the number of cells with RAD51 foci was maximal at about 4 h after heat shock. Heat-induced RAD51 foci co-localised with γH2AX foci. BRCA2-deficient cells were sensitive to heat when compared to their parental wild-type cells. Heat-induced γH2AX was higher in BRCA2-deficient cells compared to parental cells. In SAS cells, cells transfected with BRCA2-siRNA were more sensitive to heat than cells transfected with negative control siRNA. Apoptotic bodies increased in number more rapidly in BRCA2-siRNA transfected cells than in cells transfected with negative control siRNA when cells were observed at 48 h after a heat treatment. In addition, cells deficient in BRCA2 were incapable of activating heat-induced G2/M arrest.

Conclusion: BRCA2 has a protecting role against heat-induced cell death. BRCA2 might be a potential molecular target for hyperthermic cancer therapy.

Keywords: BRCA2; DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs); RAD51; homologous recombination (HR); γH2AX.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA2 Protein / metabolism*
  • Cricetinae
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / drug effects*
  • Heat-Shock Response / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human