The ubiquitin (Ub)/proteasome pathway facilitates the degradation of damaged proteins and regulators of growth and stress response. The activation of this pathway in various cancers and malignancies has been described, and several genetic determinants of breast cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, are linked to protein degradation. To investigate the involvement of the Ub/proteasome system in breast cancer, we examined a collection of 25 patient-matched breast cancer and normal adjacent tissues and detected activation of numerous components of the Ub/proteasome pathway. The activity of the proteasome, and levels of proteasome subunits and various targeting factors, were increased in >90% of primary breast cancer tissue specimens. In contrast, no activation was observed in benign solid tumors, indicating that the response is specific to abnormal growth in neoplastic cells. Additionally, the accumulation of high levels of certain Ub-conjugating enzymes (UbcH1, UbcH2, and UbcH5), was specific to breast cancer, as no change in abundance was detected in primary colon cancer tissue extracts. Surprisingly, the Ub/proteasome system was not activated in a well-characterized cell culture-based breast cancer model system. Collectively, these findings suggest that the analysis of primary breast cancer tissue samples will be indispensable for the biochemical characterization of neoplastic growth and for the development of therapeutics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research