Expression of 14-3-3 σ (σ) is induced in response to DNA damage, and causes cells to arrest in G2. By SAGE (serial analysis of gene expression) analysis, we identified σ as a gene whose expression is 7-fold lower in breast carcinoma cells than in normal breast epithelium. We verified this finding by Northern blot analysis. Remarkably, σ mRNA was undetectable in 45 of 48 primary breast carcinomas. Genetic alterations at σ such as loss of heterozygosity were rare (1/20 informative cases), and no mutations were detected (0/34). On the other hand, hypermethylation of CpG islands in the σ gene was detected in 91% (75/82) of breast tumors and was associated with lack of gene expression. Hypermethylation of σ is functionally important, because treatment of σ-non-expressing breast cancer cell lines with the drug 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine resulted in demethylation of the gene and synthesis of σ mRNA. Breast cancer cells lacking σ expression showed increased number of chromosomal breaks and gaps when exposed to γ-irradiation. Therefore, it is possible that loss of σ expression contributes to malignant transformation by impairing the G2 cell cycle checkpoint function, thus allowing an accumulation of genetic defects. Hypermethylation and loss of σ expression are the most consistent molecular alterations in breast cancer identified so far.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - May 23 2000|
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