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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 746858, 8 pages
Research Article

Hypoxia and Human Genome Stability: Downregulation of BRCA2 Expression in Breast Cancer Cell Lines

1Section of Medical Oncology, Department of Surgical, Oncological and Stomatological Sciences, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy
2Phase I-Early Clinical Trials Unit, Oncology Department and Multidisciplinary Oncology Center Antwerp (MOCA), Antwerp University Hospital, 2650 Edegem, Belgium

Received 30 April 2013; Accepted 21 August 2013

Academic Editor: Dominic Fan

Copyright © 2013 Daniele Fanale et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previously, it has been reported that hypoxia causes increased mutagenesis and alteration in DNA repair mechanisms. In 2005, an interesting study showed that hypoxia-induced decreases in BRCA1 expression and the consequent suppression of homologous recombination may lead to genetic instability. However, nothing is yet known about the involvement of BRCA2 in hypoxic conditions in breast cancer. Initially, a cell proliferation assay allowed us to hypothesize that hypoxia could negatively regulate the breast cancer cell growth in short term in vitro studies. Subsequently, we analyzed gene expression in breast cancer cell lines exposed to hypoxic condition by microarray analysis. Interestingly, genes involved in DNA damage repair pathways such as mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, nonhomologous end-joining and homologous recombination repair were downregulated. In particular, we focused on the BRCA2 downregulation which was confirmed at mRNA and protein level. In addition, breast cancer cells were treated with dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG), a cell-permeable inhibitor of both proline and asparaginyl hydroxylases able to induce HIF-1α stabilization in normoxia, providing results comparable to those previously described. These findings may provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying genetic instability mediated by hypoxia and BRCA involvement in sporadic breast cancers.