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c-Fos oncogene regulator Elk-1 interacts with BRCA1 splice variants BRCA1a/1b and enhances BRCA1a/1b-mediated growth suppression in breast cancer cells


Elk-1, a c-Fos protooncogene regulator, which belongs to the ETS-domain family of transcriptional factors, plays an important role in the induction of immediate early gene expression in response to a variety of extracellular signals. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time the in vitro and in vivo interaction of Elk-1 with BRCA1 splice variants BRCA1a and BRCA1b using GST-pull down assays, co-imunoprecipitations/Western blot analysis of cell extracts from breast cancer cells and mammalian two-hybrid assays. We have localized the BRCA1 interaction domain of Elk-1 protein to the conserved ETS domain, a motif involved in DNA binding and protein–protein interactions. We also observed binding of BRCA1 proteins to other ETS-domain transcription factors SAP1, ETS-1, ERG-2 and Fli-1 but not to Elk-1 splice variant ΔElk-1 and c-Fos protooncogene. Both BRCA1a and BRCA1b splice variants function as growth suppressors of human breast cancer cells. Interestingly, our studies reveal that although both Elk-1 and SAP-1 are highly homologous members of a subfamily of ETS domain proteins called ternary complex factors, it is only Elk-1 but not SAP-1 that can augment the growth suppressive function of BRCA1a/1b proteins in breast cancer cells. Thus Elk-1 could be a potential downstream target of BRCA1 in its growth control pathway. Furthermore, we have observed inhibition of c-Fos promoter activity in BRCA1a transfected stable breast cancer cells and over expression of BRCA1a/1b attenuates MEK-induced SRE activation in vivo. These results demonstrate for the first time a link between the growth suppressive function of BRCA1a/1b proteins and signal transduction pathway involving Elk-1 protein. All these results taken together suggest that one of the mechanisms by which BRCA1a/1b proteins function as growth/tumor suppressors is through inhibition of the expression of Elk-1 target genes like c-Fos.

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We thank T Kouzarides for GAL4 reporter and expression plasmids, T Curran for the c-Fos plasmid, R Treisman for SAP1a plasmid, J Gioanne for the CAL-51 cell line, RJ Davis for pSRE×2 luciferase reporter plasmid and NG Ahn for pCMV-MEK-DN plasmid. We thank L Boyer for secretarial assistance. We also thank the other members of Rao and Reddy laboratories for their help. This work was supported by NIH grant RO1CA57322 and a clinical research infrastructure award from MCP Hahnemann University to VN Rao; U.S. Army Medical Research grant DAMD17-94-J-4280 to VN Rao; NIH grants RO1CA85343 and RO1CA58642 to ESP Reddy and U.S. Army Medical Research Grant DAMD17-99-1-9060 to ESP Reddy.

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Chai, Y., Chipitsyna, G., Cui, J. et al. c-Fos oncogene regulator Elk-1 interacts with BRCA1 splice variants BRCA1a/1b and enhances BRCA1a/1b-mediated growth suppression in breast cancer cells. Oncogene 20, 1357–1367 (2001).

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  • c-Fos
  • BRCA1/BRCA1a/1b
  • Elk-1
  • growth suppression
  • breast cancer
  • protein–protein interaction

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