The second BRCT domain of BRCA1 proteins interacts with p53 and stimulates transcription from the p21WAF1/CIP1 promoter

Oncogene. 1999 Jan 7;18(1):263-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1202323.


Inherited mutations in the breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 are associated with high risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers. Several studies link BRCA1 to transcriptional regulation, DNA repair, apoptosis and growth/tumor suppression. BRCA1 associates with p53 and stimulates transcription in both p53 dependent and p53-independent manners. BRCA1 splice variants BRCA1a (p110) and BRCA1b (p100) associates with CBP/p300 co-activators. Here we show that BRCA1a and BRCA1b proteins stimulate p53-dependent transcription from the p21WAF1/CIP1 promoter. In addition, the C-terminal second BRCA1 (BRCT) domain is sufficient for p53 mediated transactivation of the p21 promoter. Previous studies emphasized the importance of the BRCT domain, which shows homology with p53 binding protein (53BP1), in transcriptional activation, growth inhibition and tumor suppression. Our findings demonstrate an additional function for this domain in protein-protein interaction and co-activation of p53. We also found that BRCA1a and BRCA1b proteins interact with p53 in vitro and in vivo. The p53 interaction domain of BRCA1a/1b maps, in vitro, to the second BRCT domain (aa 1760-1863). The BRCT domain binds to the central domain of p53 which is required for sequence specific DNA binding. These results demonstrate for the first time the presence of a second p53 interaction domain in BRCA1 proteins and suggests that BRCA1a and BRCA1b proteins, like BRCA1, function as p53 co-activators. This BRCT domain also binds in vitro to CBP. These results suggest that one of the mechanisms by which BRCA1 proteins function is through recruitment of CBP/p300 associated HAT/FAT activity for acetylation of p53 to specific promoters resulting in transcriptional activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • COS Cells
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53