The Role of Breast Cancer Proteins (BRCA1) in Fat Regulation

BRCA1 protein
Breast Cancer Type 1 Susceptibility Protein (BRCA1) has long been associated with the development of breast cancer. This protein has been known to assist in DNA repair. Mutations in the structure of the protein prevents the protein from functioning in killing cells whose DNA is damaged.  In breast tissue the lack of DNA repair may potentially lead to the formation of cancer cells.  More recently, the BRCA1 protein has also been found to be associated with fat metabolism in breast cancer cells by affecting the mitochondria, the cells energy source, and fat uptake.  A recent study by Dr. Espen Spangenburg’s team has discovered that BRCA1 is also found in muscle cells.

The scientists took muscle tissue samples of both males and females both before and after exercise and found that BRCA1 proteins.  A higher concentration of BRCA1 was found after exercise which ultimately leads to:

  • decreased fat storage
  • increased insuline effect
  • improvement in the energy production of cells
  • better regulation of toxic products of exercise called reactive oxygen species (ROS)

Experiments that decreased the amount of BRCA1 in muscle cells led to the opposite effect as listed above.

What is now known about the BRCA1 gene and protein are that they are both associated with the regulation of damaged cells, fat metabolism, and energy production.  The result potentially means that the gene is both linked to metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes and their potential development of cancer.  Although people have said that there was an association with obesity and cancer there has been no physiological evidence supporting it until now. It will be interesting to see where the research on exercise and cancer takes us next!

Kathryn C. Jackson1, Eva-­‐Karin Gidlund2, Jessica Norrbom2,Ana P. Valencia1, David M. Thomson3, Rosemary A. Schuh5,6, Darrell P. Neufer7, Espen E. Spangenburg1. BRCA1 is a Novel Regulator of Metabolic Function in Skeletal Muscle. Journal of Lipid Research. 2014

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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