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Volume 2012, Article ID 796808, 15 pages
Review Article

The BRCA1 Breast Cancer Suppressor: Regulation of Transport, Dynamics, and Function at Multiple Subcellular Locations

Westmead Institute for Cancer Research, Westmead Millennium Institute at Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Darcy Road, P.O. Box 412, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

Received 29 August 2012; Accepted 18 September 2012

Academic Editors: J. A. Castro, Y. Chagnon, and M. Mottolese

Copyright © 2012 Beric R. Henderson. 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.


Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 gene predispose to a higher risk of breast/ovarian cancer. The BRCA1 tumor suppressor is a 1863 amino acid protein with multiple protein interaction domains that facilitate its roles in regulating DNA repair and maintenance, cell cycle progression, transcription, and cell survival/apoptosis. BRCA1 was first identified as a nuclear phosphoprotein, but has since been shown to contain different transport sequences including nuclear export and nuclear localization signals that enable it to shuttle between specific sites within the nucleus and cytoplasm, including DNA repair foci, centrosomes, and mitochondria. BRCA1 nuclear transport and ubiquitin E3 ligase enzymatic activity are tightly regulated by the BRCA1 dimeric binding partner BARD1 and further modulated by cancer mutations and diverse signaling pathways. This paper will focus on the transport, dynamics, and multiple intracellular destinations of BRCA1 with emphasis on how regulation of these events has impact on, and determines, a broad range of important cellular functions.