BRCA1-mediated G2/M cell cycle arrest requires ERK1/2 kinase activation

Ying Yan, Rebecca S. Spieker, Min Kim, Scott M. Stoeger, Kenneth H. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Germline mutations in the BRCA1 gene are associated with an increased susceptibility to the development of breast and ovarian cancers. Evidence suggests that BRCA1 protein plays a key role in mediating DNA damage-induced checkpoint responses. Several studies have shown that ectopic expression of BRCA1 in human cells can trigger cellular responses similar to those induced by DNA damage, including G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. While the effects of ectopic BRCA1 expression on the G2/M transition and apoptosis have been extensively studied, the factors that dictate the balance between these two responses remain poorly understood. We have recently shown that ectopic expression of BRCA1 in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells resulted in activation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) and G2/M cell cycle arrest. Furthermore, inhibition of BRCA1-induced ERK1/2 activation using mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 and 2 (MEK1/2)-specific inhibitors resulted in increased apoptosis, suggesting a potential role of ERK1/2 kinases in BRCA1-mediated G2/M checkpoint response. In this study, we assessed the role of ERK1/2 kinases in the regulation of BRCA1-mediated G2/M cell cycle arrest. Results indicate that BRCA1-induced G2/M cell cycle arrest and ERK1/2 activation correlate with changes in the level and/or activity of several key regulators of the G2/M checkpoint, including activation of Chk1 and Wee1 kinases, induction of 14-3-3, and down-regulation of Cdc25C. Furthermore, inhibition of ERK1/2 kinases using MEK1/2-specific inhibitors results in a marked attenuation of the BRCA1-induced G2/M arrest. Biochemical studies established that ERK1/2 inhibition abolished the effects of BRCA1 on components of the G2/M checkpoint, including regulation of Cdc25C expression and activation of Wee1 and Chk1 kinases. These results implicate a critical role of ERK1/2 signaling in the regulation of BRCA1 function on controlling the G2/M checkpoint responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3285-3296
Number of pages12
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 5 2005


  • BRCA1
  • Cdc2
  • Cdc25C
  • Chk1
  • ERK1/2 and Wee1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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