Although p53 mutations are found in ~50% of all human cancers, p53 mutations in some cancer types (such as breast cancer) constitute much lower percentage. The p53 functions among the cancers with wild type p53 can be circumvented by other mechanisms. The identification of these alternative mechanisms by which p53 tumor suppressing function is impaired can provide further insights into the molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis for the large portion of cancers harboring wild type p53. Recent studies suggested that the binding of the wild type p53 with its target promoter DNA sequences, and the trans-activation activity of wild type p53 are severely inhibited when the BCCIP gene is down-regulated. Furthermore, lack of BCCIP expression is associated with a poor clinical outcome in a set of cancer with wild type p53 but not among cancers with mutant p53. BCCIP expression is absent in 33% of breast cancer, and the BCCIP negativity is associated with wild type p53 in breast cancer. These clinical data are consistent with the finding that BCCIP defect may alleviate the function of wild type p53 function, and suggested that p53 and BCCIP are functionally in the same epistatic pathway to modulate the outcomes of cancer treatment and development of a subset of breast cancers. Based on these studies, we hypothesize that BCCIP defect represents a new mechanism to inactivate the p53 tumor suppressor activity, and plays a role in breast cancer development.
Aim 1 tests the working hypothesis that BCCIP is required for p53 binding to targeted promoters. When BCCIP is impaired, p53 is not able to form tetramer efficiently thus cannot function properly as a tumor suppressor.
Aim 2 will develop two mammary tumorigenesis models to address the role of BCCIP defect in breast cancer development, especially in triple negative breast cancer and the breast cancers that are p53 wild type. Because BCCIP down-regulation is found in a large fraction of breast cancers, and BCCIP defect may confer resistance to therapeutic DNA damage by abrogating the wild type p53 functions, we believe that this study has a great potential to further understand the molecular mechanism of oncogenesis, especially for these cancers with wild type p53, and thus would have significant impact on improving cancer intervention.

Public Health Relevance

It is well established that the status of tumor suppressor p53 in cancer is a major factor dictating the tumorigenesis and therapeutic outcomes. Our study will address the mechanisms and the consequences of BCCIP defect in alleviating wild type p53 tumor suppressor function. Because lack of BCCIP expression is found in a significant portion of human cancer (for example ~33% of breast cancer based on our preliminary studies) and ~50% of all human cancers do not have p53 mutation, our study will reveal a molecular oncogenesis mechanism relevant to a large portion of human cancers, and offer the scientific bases for further development of cancer intervention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular Oncogenesis Study Section (MONC)
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Pelroy, Richard
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Rbhs -Cancer Institute of New Jersey
New Brunswick
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