Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New risk factor for developing breast cancer: DNA methylation modification to BRCA1 gene

Date:
November 13, 2010
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
Medical researchers have identified a new risk factor for developing breast cancer. The risk factor involves a modification (DNA methylation) to the BRCA1 gene. BRCA1 is known for its involvement in breast and ovarian cancer. Women with mutations in this gene, which inactivates its function, are predisposed to these diseases.

An Australian research team from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland has identified a new risk factor for developing breast cancer, according to a study published online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

The risk factor involves a modification (DNA methylation) to the BRCA1 gene. BRCA1 is known for its involvement in breast and ovarian cancer. Women with mutations in this gene, which inactivates its function, are predisposed to these diseases.

The DNA methylation modification is known as an epimutation and acts to turn off the BRCA1 gene from its normal protective function against breast cancer. It is not considered a genetic mutation as it does not directly affect the sequence of the gene like a mutation but nevertheless inactivates the normal protective function of the gene.

The study involved women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40 years for whom BRCA1 mutations had not been identified. The epimutation was found in the blood of some women with breast cancer, especially those who develop the same type of breast cancer that develops in women with a BRCA1 mutation. However, unlike mutations in the BRCA1 gene, these epimutations appear not to be inherited and the relatives of women with epimutations are not at increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

Professor Melissa Southey from the University of Melbourne Department of Pathology, co-leader of the Australian Breast Cancer Family Study and a senior author on the paper said factors that triggered epimutations that stopped the gene BRCA1 from doing its usual job of preventing breast cancer might cause the same proportion of early-onset breast cancers (10%) as do inherited faults in this gene.

"For about 3-4% of young women, their BRCA1 gene has been made less capable of preventing breast cancers by some unknown factors. This places them at a 3.5-fold increased risk of breast cancer. This discovery of this modification in BRCA1 gene provides impetus for further work in this area," she said.

Associate Professor Alexander Dobrovic from the Pathology Department of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the lead investigator on this collaborative study said that the discovery of this epimutation in the peripheral blood indicated that it was present in many tissues of the body.

"This is highly significant for the understanding of mechanisms of breast cancer development as it could drive the development of breast cancer in the same way as a mutation. Many questions remain unanswered, in particular what triggers this epimutation and whether women carrying this risk factor can reduce their risk by dietary or pharmacological intervention."

Testing for this risk factor will be unavailable until answers to these and other questions are known.

The research team comprises Dr. Ee Ming Wong, Professor Stephen Fox and Associate Professor Alexander Dobrovic of the Department of Pathology of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Associate Professor Melissa Southey of the Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne: Professor John Hopper and Dr. James Dowty of the Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytical Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne; Professor Melissa Brown, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, and Professor Graham Giles and Associate Professor Mark Jenkins of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre of The Cancer Council of Victoria.

The research has been funded by the United States Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health, the Cancer Council of Victoria, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Melbourne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. M. Wong, M. C. Southey, S. B. Fox, M. A. Brown, J. G. Dowty, M. A. Jenkins, G. G. Giles, J. Hopper, A. Dobrovic. Constitutional Methylation of the Brca1 Promoter Is Specifically Associated With Brca1 Mutation-Associated Pathology in Early-Onset Breast Cancer. Cancer Prevention Research, 2010; DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0212

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "New risk factor for developing breast cancer: DNA methylation modification to BRCA1 gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110101311.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2010, November 13). New risk factor for developing breast cancer: DNA methylation modification to BRCA1 gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110101311.htm
University of Melbourne. "New risk factor for developing breast cancer: DNA methylation modification to BRCA1 gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110101311.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins