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article imageBreast cancer gene linked to brain development

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2014 in Science
The breast cancer-associated gene BRCA1 appears to play a protective role in neural stem cells, a new mouse study has found.
The BRCA1 gene is associated with breast cancer risk. New research indicates that the gene may also play a role in neural development and influence brain size. This is based on findings that show that mice that do not have the gene die soon after birth.
BRCA1 is an acronym for "breast cancer 1, early onset." Certain variations of the BRCA1 gene lead to an increased risk for breast cancer as part of a hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome.
According to Science Now, to test their theory, scientists engineered mice in which BRCA1 was knocked out in just the neural stem cells. They found that the brains of these mice were a third the size of normal mouse brains, and had especially small regions for learning, memory, motor control and sensation. The analysis revealed that BRCA1 prevented DNA breaks and that without it, excessive DNA damage triggered cell destruction.
The research was led by Inder Verma of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. The findings have been published in the journal PNAS. The paper is titled "Role of BRCA1 in brain development."
More about Breast Cancer, Brain, Neurology, Genes, BRCA1
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